Monday, June 20, 2011

Homeless in America

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Homelessness In America


The Stewart McKinney Act of 187 defines a homeless person as Aone who


lacks a fixed permanent nighttime residence, or whose nighttime residence is


a temporary shelter, welfare hotel or any public or private place not


Order custom research paper on Homeless in America


designated as sleeping accommodations for human beings. Included in the


homeless population are people who stay with friends or family for a short


period of time and then decide to find shelter on the streets because of


conflict with the people whom they are staying with, or because of personal


pride.


In the early 180s homelessness was determined to be a major problem in the


United States. These years saw a steep rise in the number of homeless, due


to poor economy and diminishing financial help for housing and income. The


homeless consist of all types, races, and ages of people. A large portion of


the homeless population consists of men but the number of women and


children living on the streets is on the rise. Current statistics show that


women and children now make up around forty percent of the homeless


population. According to John J. Macionis one third of homeless people


abuse drugs and one fourth are mentally ill. The current homeless population


is mostly non-white and has an average age of the middle thirties. Veterans


make up about one-third of the total number of homeless men. The homeless


all suffer from absolute poverty. As stated in 15 by the United States


government, 6 million people or 1.8% of the population was poor. The


government defines a family of four as being poor if they generate a yearly


income of $15,56 or less, although the average improvised families income


was only around $10,000 in 15. The Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics


states, the average annual income of the homeless in Chicago was $118 in


16.


Perhaps we should not be surprised that one percent of our population, for


one reason or another is unable to cope with our complex and highly


competitive society. According to the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics


homelessness in America has several causes. One such cause is the


competitiveness of the business market. Companies are no longer as loyal to


their employees as they used to be. Many corporations now use overseas


laborers. Also, a diminishing amount of low-skill jobs, due to industrialization


has increased the chances of low-skilled workers finding employment. The


Chicago coalition for the homeless states that a person must be employed


full time and earn more than $8. per hour in order to exceed the federal


poverty level for a family of four. According to the 17 census report .


million people worked full time but were still below the poverty line. Another


reason for the increased number of homeless is the lack of affordable


housing, especially in urban areas. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless


reports that, nationally, 10.5 million low income renters compete for 6.1


million rental units that are within their price range, leaving 4.4 million without


affordable housing. Many low-income areas are being bought out by wealthy


entrepreneurs who remodel and restore them and sell them for a large profit.


The main streaming of institutionalized mental patients is another reason for


homelessness. According to Microsoft Encarta nationally 0-5% of the


homeless population suffers from some sort of major mental illness. These


people are less likely to be able to obtain support such as treatment, case


management and the help that is necessary to find and maintain permanent


housing.


The most recent cause of homelessness in the United States is the


feminization of poverty. Because of the high expense of child care and the


increasing numbers of single mothers, the number of homeless women and


children is on the rise. According to Stacey Chambers the rise in the number


of homeless women is partially due to domestic violence. In an interview of


homeless mothers ninety-two percent had been assaulted at one time in their


lives. More than half had suffered from bouts of major depression in their


lives where as only twenty percent of the housed United States female


population had suffered from similar depression . Despite these facts and


statistics, little else is known about these people. Most sociological surveys


are conducted by phone or mail and obviously cannot reach the homeless


people. The lack of affordable housing forces many homeless people to


dwell in more remote and isolated places and are, therefore, more difficult to


interview.


Many homeless people who are available to be interviewed are too incoherent


or paranoid to do so. An additional reason for so little being known about


the homeless is that homelessness is such a controversial issue that many of


the interviewers are biased and base the findings of their interviews on the


personal beliefs. The direct effect of homelessness is that approximately


700,000 people are sleeping on the streets each night. Controversies on File


points out that people stay away from areas where homeless people are


because they do not wish to be confronted by panhandlers. People often feel


threatened in areas where homeless people are because the homeless are


often mentally disabled or on drugs. Areas inhabited by the homeless


become run down and barren and businesses are hurt. Controversies on file


explains that during the past twenty years the government has imposed


pollicies that were to encourage people to get off the streets by offering them


help with health care and finding jobs and residence. By taking a laissez-faire


approach it was hoped that the homeless would just integrate into society.


Currently laws regarding the homeless have become much more strict. In


October of 1 Mayor Giuliani, of New York created a policy, which


obligate the homeless to work in return for shelter. Later he had the homeless


arrested if they refused shelter. These policies are an out of sight, out of


mind solution. They make poverty a crime when it is often not the fault of the


homeless people themselves. Every year thousands of people flock to our


nations capitol to see our beautiful cherry trees. Imagine for a moment a nice


young couple and their two children taking a trip to admire our nations capital


at its most beautiful. They walk along the avenue as the father explains some


of Washingtons history to his little girl, but he notices she is distracted by


something and he directs his attention to the direction of which she is


looking.


He sees an old looking man who appears not to have seen a shower in


months, dressed in what used to be military fatigues, but are now rags. He


sits in the shadows next to a rusty old Folgers can containing some loose


change and a piece of cardboard that reads, A Vietnam veteran, please help,


God bless you. Once the homeless man sees that he has the attention of the


little girl and her father, he starts to approach them and ask for some spare


change. At which point the father then grabs his daughter by her hand and


says to his family, dont even look at him, and then rushes them away. See no


evil, hear no evil, tends to be the mentality of our society. We do not want to


see the ugliness of our own country. We want to think of America the


beautiful, not America the country with 700,000 people that have no roof


over their heads. Every time a person walks down the street and sees a


homeless person, it is programmed into their heads to look away. Society


thinks, dont give them a dollar because they are just going to spend it on


boose and drugs. We do not even think about talking to these homeless


people because we just might find out that they used to be just like anybody


else. They may have had a normal life, but somehow they lost their footing


along the way and were never able to regain it. Nobody wants to think about


this. It ruins our image of America the beautiful, the land of the free and the


brave. Society sees the homeless as a growing and unsightly blemish and


wants it to go away.


The government dropped the more compassionate pollicies of the past and


began evicting the homeless. According to Stacey Chambers the National


Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty discovered that laws have been


passed to make many of the activities that are associated with homelessness


illegal in forty-two cities. This is mainly achieved by not allowing the


homeless to use public property as a place to rest or sleep, placing


restrictions on begging, and targeting specific areas where homeless are and


forcing them to relocate or in some cases arresting them. The National Law


Center on Homelessness and Poverty determined that penalizing people, will


not detour them, since they have no alternative. Homeless people who are


chased out of one public area and have nowhere else to go will simply appear


in another area. The governments current out of sight, out of mind policies


are simply not dealing with the problem. In our current booming economy


there is truly no excuse for the degree of poverty in the United States. The


obvious solution to the problem of homelessness is to increase the amount


of affordable housing and the number of living wage jobs. New York


University did a study that concluded that low-income housing projects are


ultimately the best solution for getting families off the streets. The Christian


Science monitor reports that a builder in Columbus Ohio is erecting 800


housing units distributed around the city in order to alleviate this problem.


This project will be backed up by the support of caseworkers and around the


clock supervision for mentally ill persons. Our society must make these types


of efforts because the root cause of homelessness is society itself. In order


to combat the homelessness problem society must quit taking a blind eye to


the issue. 700,000 people have no roof over their head because of lack of


work, mental disabilities, or lack of support and few people can recognize


that these things are of no fault of the homeless individuals. The problem is


not being properly addressed by enforcing strict policies such as arresting


the homeless or not allowing them the necessities of life. We should realize


that society, as a whole is to blame for the homelessness situation and refrain


from placing the blame on individuals.





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