unlocking a broken world

Connie and I came into the ministry in the early 1990s. Working directly with homeless and impoverished people over the years has taught us so much. When we first started, we believed homelessness was the result of a lack of housing, employment, or money, which was the common perception. Experience, however, has shown us that the primary cause of homelessness is actually the lack of relational resources.

When we examine our country, we find that family units are breaking down with an increasing measure causing homelessness to grow year after year despite the billions being poured out to ‘fix' it. We wish it were as easy as giving people houses, jobs, money, etc., because then we would no longer have a homeless problem. In reality, broken relational resources are leaving people in a shattered state of existence.

The ones who are most vulnerable are the children because their lives move from one chaotic event to the next where abuse, neglect, and self-loathing become all they know. They are shaped by this trauma and grow up searching for anything to relieve their pain, often turning to drugs, alcohol, and sex. One fix leads to the next and homelessness is the outcome. Before they know it they are raising kids of their own in the same broken reality that they were shaped by.

Without intervention, homelessness cycles from generation to generation pulling more people into its horrific realities. Our hope with the resources on this website is for you to see homelessness for what it truly is in our community and to understand what can make a difference in the lives of those trapped in it. We hope to initiate a paradigm shift in the way people view and approach homelessness altogether because homelessness doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

       — Scott Payne

            ICM Executive Director


Many people in America find the term ‘homelessness’ puzzling because it historically has been used to describe the entirety of breakdowns within human habitation; people without housing for any reason are considered to be ‘homeless’.

This one-size-fits-all understanding does not work because of the multidimensional realities that exist whenever human habitation is fractured. First, however, the pivotal role that personal resources play in stable habitation must be understood.

personal resources

These are the set of resources that every individual requires to have stability in their own lives. Relational, Inner, Material, and Outside resources create a foundation where stability can be cultivated and maintained despite crisis or calamity arising.

A common question heard over the years is, “Why do some people get back on their feet after a crisis while others do not?” Experience has shown that every person has “personal resources” they draw upon to maintain stability in their own lives. When these resources are broken or nonexistent then fractured habitation is often the result.

These are the significant people in a person’s life who become a support system when times get tough or crisis takes place. Parents, family, or friends with whom the person has a healthy, positive relationship are relational resources.

The unique blend of individual characteristics that make each person one-of-a-kind. Temperament, IQ, morals, values, and ethics are just a few of resources that positively impact a person.

The assets that a person owns and has control of, such as material possessions, savings accounts, insurance, and cash are examples.

Any type of aid provided to a person by non-related sources such as government agencies, non-profit agencies, churches, or individual advocates.

fractured habitation

In society today individuals without housing — despite the reason — are considered homeless which too broadly encompasses the entirety of breakdowns within human habitation. A finer distinction allows us to better help people move from chaos to stability.


Houselessness is defined as being without a house for a varying period of time. However, a support network, relationships, personal abilities, and financial resources exist to repair or replace a physical house.


When a traumatic event occurs such as a house fire or natural disaster, people with sufficient relational, inner, and material resources are able to recover in a short period of time, usually within 30 days. Outside resources are not needed to reestablish permanent secure housing.


Similar to short-term houselessness, the loss of a house is the result of an unforeseen event, except in this situation material resources are strained or limited, lengthening the amount of time it takes to recover, sometimes up to a year. Outside resources might be needed to reestablish permanent secure housing.


Homelessness is defined as an internal struggle that manifests itself as an external problem. It might appear that a homeless individual needs money, a job, or a house, but these things do not resolve the absence of positive relationships and personal abilities.

These individuals continuously overextend relational resources, often forcing the person to rely on outside resources. Living off the goodwill of others, these individuals are often one loss away from eviction. Losses such as relational conflict, income, or even a vehicle can push these individuals out the door.

People in this category have rejected relational resources by refusing to cooperate or submit to authority in any form. Thus, these individuals are unable to maintain housing, employment, or any productive relationship.


These individuals have experienced a series of traumatic events, often a result of the toxic environment in which they were exposed. Broken, dysfunctional, or non-existent relational resources have weakened their inner resources, making it nearly impossible to sustain the material resources needed for habitation.


Lacking physical space to be shielded from physical or psychological harm characterizes individuals in this group who might be experiencing mental illness, substance dependency, domestic abuse, or other unsafe instabilities.

Because of a mental disorder, these individuals are unable to understand or access relational, inner, material, and outside resources. This causes the individual to live in areas that are unfit for human habitation.

These individuals possess an overwhelming desire for a substance that leads them to sacrifice their relational, inner, material, and outside resources to obtain it. This causes the individual to live in areas that are unfit for human habitation.

Join the story

Your support provides children, their parents, and single adults with a home where they can shed their pain and chaos and come to find joy, peace, and stability. Every person who comes through our doors has a story; your supports helps them overcome homelessness and create stability.

Inner City Mission is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. All charitable giving is subject to tax deductions.