Even though our society is getting richer and more affluent, the number of homeless people doesn’t go down. Why we have so many homeless people? Why is it difficult to solve the problem in the most developed country in the world? What are the circumstances that make people homeless? There are many pressing questions connected to the issue of homelessness. Perhaps, by examining and exploring causes of homelessness in America, it is possible to understand the problem better and offer the solution for dealing with it.
What causes homelessness in a society? Scientists give different answers to this pertinent question. The economists explain homelessness in society by uneven distribution of recourses, by prohibitive mortgage rates and by high levels of unemployment. The social scientists explain homelessness by stratification of society, by group dynamics and by individual inclinations. The psychologists can talk about helplessness, mental illnesses and social conditioning as causes of homelessness in society. The criminologists will talk about homelessness and crime rates. Social workers and charity activists will explain that there is a uniquely human story behind every case of homelessness.
There are different reasons causing homelessness including childhood trauma, maladaptation, lost job, failure to pay a mortgage, loss of a breadwinner, illness or other misfortune. Personal disasters are the underlining effects of homelessness in society. Disappointment, pain, anger, despair, and hopelessness are often the emotions associated with homelessness. They prevent a homeless person from finding a solution on his own. Most of the homeless people require financial help and psychological support. They hit bottom, and they got stuck there.
Causes of homelessness statistics demonstrate a shocking and disappointing picture. The statistical numbers are dry and factual. They don’t tell or reflect real human disasters. In the USA every other year a new Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress is issued to examine the situation. Politicians deal with numbers rather than with real homeless people. According to the most recent report, there are more than half a million homeless people in the United States. Regarding ethnicity, almost 50% of homeless people are white, and 40% are African American. There are more men than women among the homeless population.
There are also a few homeless families. Usually, homeless families with children are a top priority for federal assistance. They get subsidized living accommodations and welfare support. Most of the homeless people are accommodated with places in shelters. However, one-third of them do not have access to shelters: they are considered chronically homeless. Homelessness doesn’t ask people’s age, gender or ethnicity. People from different backgrounds and walks of life can become homeless and face a challenge of surviving in the street. The Report lists that the number of homeless people goes up in the warm seasons and goes down during the cold season. The reason for it is that it is harder to live on the streets in winter because of cold weather.
There are many charities and government programs that try to remediate the upsetting situation with homelessness in the USA. They study homelessness causes and effects to understand it better. They also offer temporary living accommodations, free food, and clothes, free medical assistance. They also provide physiological rehabilitation and some professional retraining and job placement to the qualified candidates. Unfortunately, the efforts are not enough, and the number of homeless people is growing. There are no universally effective and working solutions of homelessness in the USA yet.
From my point of understanding, the problem can be solved on two levels: governmental and individual. On an administrative level, profound and comprehensive reforms should be made to the economic system of distribution of wealth to protect the most vulnerable population. Also, more investment in education and health care system can strengthen them as safety nets for the prevention of homelessness. It is easier to prevent homelessness than to reintegrate a homeless person back into the community. Homelessness is a problem of economic and societal structure and should be addressed at the system level rather than on individual level.
The American nation should perceive the issue of homelessness in the USA as a top priority problem, but many people prefer to ignore it. It is an uncomfortable feeling to know that there people on the street without a roof over their head and without food on their plate. It is a question of human dignity and compassion to help homeless individuals in every possible way. There are many opportunities: food drives, coat drives, charities, church kitchens, and shelters.
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