Imagine sleeping on a park bench next to the bus stop night after night with only a worn down puffy coat for a blanket or each day sitting under the awning of a gas station with a flipped-over hat begging for money. On street corners across America, over a half a million people can be found holding a cardboard sign with the words: need food, anything helps, or God bless CITATION Nat18 l 1033 (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty). Homelessness is a serious epidemic in the United States and often affects those with mental issues, severe family problems, or sudden financial deficits.
This pattern of mental issues and homelessness began shortly after the Civil War around the 1870’s CITATION NCB18 l 1033 (NCBI Bookshelf). After returning from the war, soldiers were in a rush to snap up good jobs; those who weren’t as lucky became what society referred to as “tramps” or those without shelter and in search of jobs. Early shelters included lodging rooms for vagrants in police stations and Hoovervilles (small shantytowns made during the Great Depression), but soon the problem of homelessness vagrants overwhelmed the nation. Fortunately, World War II provided a multitude of jobs for people across the USA and relieved the issue for a time. As the troops stumbled home, many were happy to reunite with loved ones; others faced great devastation caused by disabilities, medicinal substance abuse problems, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder CITATION Nat09 l 1033 (National Coalition for the Homeless).
A startling twenty-three percent of the homeless consists of the very people who once defended this country CITATION Nat09 l 1033 (National Coalition for the Homeless). Too often the wounded or mentally impaired end up on the streets for failing “to be like everyone else.” In reality, many of these people lack the money to cope with rental increases. Some may have lost a stable job from a factory shutting down. Others were refused housing, hotel, or apartments because the owners did not care for “strange” people or for those who had been hospitalized CITATION Car92 l 1033 (Cohen). How is it fair to treat human beings in this manner? They can’t get a job, they lose their home, they are on the streets, they have no food – it’s an endless cycle that is difficult to escape.
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Not all homeless people deal with a gradual cause and effect problem, however. Many get caught up in a sudden event that changes their financial situation. For example, marriages do not always last “till death do us part” in this day and age. One may go on a date, fall in love, get married to her prince charming or his Cinderella, but what if one day the glass slipper falls and shatters? Suddenly the couple is entangled in a whirlwind of divorce papers, custody arrangements, and property settlements, all leading to a substantial amount of money drained from bank accounts CITATION Hom07 l 1033 (HomeAid America). What if someone were in a critical car accident on a Sunday drive home from the ice cream shop? All it takes is a split second for a paralyzing or devastating accident to turn one’s world upside down. With a sudden build up of paying divorce lawyers, hospital bills, and funeral costs, it would be grueling to remain in a decent house while still providing bare necessities, such as food and water CITATION Hom07 l 1033 (HomeAid America). It doesn’t take much to throw off the average person’s finances. So, when these unexpected life changes occur it can cause colossal financial damage in a person’s life and quickly change his or her situation.
Though drastic life changes can come out of the blue, even more common and devastating threats occur in different areas of the world each day. Approximately fourteen million people are rendered homeless each year due to tragic natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, and other horrific events within nature CITATION Reu17 l 1033 (Reuters). As populations grow and the climate continues to change, everyone is at risk of far more damaging tragedies CITATION Reu17 l 1033 (Reuters). Not only do more issues such as mental or family changes arise, but vast majorities of housing communities or shelters can be affected as a result of these disasters. It is much easier to place randomized people who are scattered across a country. Yet, what happens when a third of a country is rendered homeless, jobless, and without family? In a perfect world, surrounding countries would reach out and offer their homes, shelters, and supplies, along with the tools to help rebuild what had been destroyed. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, so this ideal scenario would probably never happen. The question is: what can be done to help remove people from cold streets and place them back in warm houses with stable jobs, after their lives take such a sudden turn?
One way to help prevent these people from sleeping under a bridge every night is getting the federal government involved. There are already a few permanent supportive housing programs in place, mainly for those who suffer from mental impairments, such as housing vouchers, the “New York, New York Agreement,” and the “Housing First” movement. Sadly many of theses programs turn applicants away after a certain time period due to lack of space. The government should invest in as many programs and buildings as possible, not just the few they already invest in, to prevent having too many people and not enough beds. What about those who have sudden tragedies occur such as deaths or divorces CITATION Pro18 l 1033 (Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless)?
Since statistics show that permanent long-term housing assistance has dramatically reduced homelessness, these options should be made available even to those who may not suffer from a mental challenge or a physical impairment CITATION Pro18 l 1033 (Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless). For those who don’t have a stable income and undergo one of these scenarios such as a sudden family change, there is a temporary housing and financial support system put in place until they can catch their financial balance once again. However, many of these programs are backed up by endless waiting lists. There is a tremendous need for a more efficient system to help these people within months, not years. Although natural disasters may not permanently put someone out of a home, there is still a need for a multitude of temporary shelters in this type of situation, rather than everyone finding a place to stay on their own until their insurance kicks in for them to purchase a new home. Having “a few” shelters only does very little when a catastrophic event is at hand. Buildings should be able to house thousands for a substantial amount of time, not hundreds. On the other hand, there is a great need to reduce the price of renting a house. Housing affordability is a still widening gap leading straight to homelessness due to tenants not being able to keep up with the high price demands of owners CITATION Pro18 l 1033 (Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless).
Although there is some housing assistance available, it is not as supportive as it should be and it has prevented any future building of more affordable houses CITATION Pro18 l 1033 (Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless).The waiting lists never end and workers drag their feet to begin construction on new homes. To fix these problems, governments in every city must invest in inexpensive housing for homeless families and individuals, and strengthen regulation laws that protect those living in the homes CITATION Pro18 l 1033 (Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless).
The second way we can solve these issues is to strengthen our government-funded programs. First, we can make mental institutions more available to those in need of assistance. Many institutions send people away after a certain amount of time and over two million mentally ill Americans go untreated CITATION Men15 l 1033 (Mentally Illness Policy Org.). The next problem has been addressed for many years now, which is medical emergency insurance and assistance. Hospitals run in sync with 911 units all over our country operating day and night to keep our citizens safe. Insurance is available to those unable to afford it and it covers much of people’s expenses as well. Finally, although the biggest quick response situations are covered, few are aware about the after effects. It may not seem like a big deal to one person looking out at thousands of people’s problems, but what they don’t see is the feeling of unspeakable pain.
Tragedy assistance for emotional suffering is something our nation lacks. If a loved one suddenly passes away and you are left with nothing, who is there to comfort and help you through the next steps of your journey? Not only is the person heartbroken, but she may be devastated on many levels. She may have lost her home or only source of income. Counselors and therapy sessions should be offered as a type of insurance in the form of relief to help the victim cope with their loss. Instating this assistance could reduce risks of suicide from depression and ultimately reduce the creation of further problems. Tragedy assistance for these emotional issues should be just as available as physical emergency assistance in order to help as many people as possible sort through their mental pain and find a decent home until they can get a good job again.
One might make the argument that all these grand ideas would only take more money from people who are not struggling at all. While this is partly true, look at the bigger picture. Many government programs are set up to help and protect homeless citizens. The only way these programs can run is by taxing the people who are not homeless. It ultimately comes down to having a change of heart. Many people are homeless because they do not qualify for a job and cannot afford anywhere else to go. Although some people may choose to be homeless, does that mean those who don’t have a choice should be ignored? If one is making a steady paycheck, is it really hurting that person to give a couple hundred or thousand dollars to taxes to help keep these organizations afloat? A second point of view is that adding more assistance programs to our mental, medical, and helping assistance programs will be too chaotic and create more problems than benefits. However, adding more programs such as tragedy emotional assistance provide real value and possibly job opportunities for the homeless in some cases. By adding these programs, people are taken off the streets and jobs are provided – it’s a healthier cycle. The real change that society needs is a head and heart change to realize that these are Americans just like everyone else and help should be given to those serious about changing their lives.
In closing, it is clear that homelessness is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed. If Americans of all kinds can work together to help each other and help better the environment we live in, we can make the process much easier. Through helping the mentally challenged reach a safe haven of healing, supporting those riding a sudden life rollercoaster, or strengthening our government funding to provide support for the financially unstable, we can bring the train we call homelessness to a screeching halt.
- Cohen, Kenneth S. Thompson. Homeless Mentally Ill or Mentally Ill Homeless? June 1992.
- HomeAid America. Top Causes of Homelessness in America. 2007.
- Mentally Illness Policy Org. Mentally Ill Homeless. 2015.
- National Coalition for the Homeless. Homeless Veterans. September 2009.
- National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. 2018.
- NCBI Bookshelf. The History of Homelessness in the United States. 11 July 2018.
- Proven Solutions - Coalition For The Homeless. Coalition For the Homeless. 2018.
- http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/ending-homelessness/proven-solutions/Reuters. 12 October 2017.
Homelessness and Solutions Homeless People
Let’s all help the homeless During the past decade there may have been an increase in homelessness due to the struggles of daily life. People have many ideas on ways that the government or communities can help improve these situations. It is not easy to help the homeless but any help can improve their lives and our streets. It may not take them completely off our streets but it can help them to get back on their feet.
In a New York Times article, “Rooms of Their Own” on January 21, 1990 by Anna Quindlen, she reports that after observing people on the streets that all they want it a safe place to live to call home where they can have some privacy. She describes that many are mentally ill that the government cannot support any longer. Some homeless are former inmates that just need a little help getting back into society. Anna argues that the government should have to help by housing them in small studio like room to help them get back on their feet.
By doing this it may get them back in the community and working soon to be on their own and not need the help any longer. Stuart D. Bykofsky complains in Newsweek, “ No Heart for the Homeless”, on December 1, 1986 that he is fed up with the homeless laying around in the streets and making his community disgusting and unsafe to walk. He argues that why should individuals settle for these kinds of people living on there property for free and get away with it. He believes that it is not fair that they get to live on the streets for free and while
Rivas 2 tax payers are getting fined for any reason. Stuart explains that the homeless need no excuse to live on the streets if there is a shelter to go to. It is their choice to go but if they choose not to then they should be fined for it as well. Not all homeless are the same because they all have different situations on why they have become homeless. Some of them have gotten laid off and simply cannot find w a job to support their families. This is all a part of Steven’s Vanderstaaty claim in his book, “Solutions Homeless People Seek”.
He reveals that these unemployed people just want to work so they can get back into the community, but believe they shouldn’t have to go through all different kinds of training and programs for a job that they already have experience in. He points out that what homeless need is help getting back to society by their certain situations they may face of drug and alcohol programs or resources to help each individual that may need help mentally, physically or financially.
After reading all three essays I find that any help would it be, donating time or money would help the homeless. It would show that the community does care for them as well as their surroundings to make it a cleaner and a safer place to live. Homeless or not everyone needs help may it be financially, emotionally or physically the government should have resources to help everyone!
Youth Homelessness in Australia
A homeless person is without a conventional home and lacks most of the economic and social supports that a home normally affords. She/he is often cut off from the support of relatives and friends, she/he has few independent resources and often has no immediate means and in some cases little prospect of self support. She/he is in danger of falling below the poverty line, at least from time to time. There are many causes for youth homelessness.
Some youths become homeless because they ran away from an abusive parent or caretaker. They will feel upset/depressed or angry and end up running away. Some youths become homeless because they become involved in drugs and they get kicked out and have nowhere to go. They will still have an addiction to drugs and will struggle to pay for things. Some youths become homeless because they have a mental disorder or illness that isn’t treated properly by his/her family.
These youths will often not want help and end up being alone and without help There are many myths about homeless youths and many of them are incorrect. The myth that homeless people are older men is wrong, about half those who are homelessness are between 12 and 34. (In Victoria). That all young homeless youths are male - nationally, 55 percent of homeless youths are female. Another myth is that the youths choose to be homeless. This is incorrect as they would probably prefer to be in a warm house, without having to worry about food, drugs, money or abuse.
Youth off the streets could get their message across much easier if they publicised more and showed how they are transforming/helping young people’s lives. Have fundraisers where people know they are helping the youths, have banners, try and get a day all about youths off the streets every year where it’s a big deal and business will donate, advertising around streets, on the television, pamphlets and news segment to get people’s attention and help.
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