Homelessness in America
America is home not only to the Americans. It is also the home to a multitude of races from different parts of the globe. It is known as “the land of milk and honey”. Recently though, America is no longer a home. Homelessness is becoming a major concern for the government because of the growing number of its homeless people. A homeless person is one who does not have a permanent place to stay in and does not have an acceptable residence at night.
Data on the homeless population is gathered through a survey made every January among the communities in the US. The result of this latest “point-in-time counts” done last January 2012 shows that “an estimated 636,017 people experienced homelessness in the United States on a given night which translates to an incidence, or rate, of 21 homeless people per 10,000 people in the general population” (National Alliance to End Homelessness , par 2).
The most common causes of homelessness for persons in families is the lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment. Among singles, substance abuse, lack of affordable housing and mental illness are the most common causes of homelessness.
The figures of 2011 show that the majority of the homeless population are individuals, making up 63 percent, while the number of people in families makes up 37 percent of the total homeless population (National Alliance to End Homelessness , par 3).
In order for America to retain its image as the haven for the homeless, one proposes several steps to increase the population of the homeless. The most important move is not to involve government. If the government is involved, it will surely provide for public assistance through public agencies. The government will coordinate with various organizations to prevent homelessness such as those groups concerned with literacy programs or programs for the mentally ill. To maintain a high population of homeless people, government should not be allowed to show concern for these people.
The next step to ensure that homeless people will remain to be homeless is not to provide for funding or federal grants to support programs for them. If federal grants or private funding is given to organizations working towards providing homes for the homeless and assisting them to become capable of having their own homes, then their number will decrease. If that happens, then America will no longer be a place for the homeless.
Providing for temporary shelters and rental assistance funds is not a permanent solution to the problem of homelessness. These steps should therefore be increased. It will also encourage homelessness because the homeless population knows that they can always count on these shelters and financing assistance. This can definitely contribute to an increase in the number of homeless people.
Giving job trainings or credit counseling will not help the homeless. The government and other concerned agencies should not provide these because it will just be a waste of money. The homeless will not appreciate such help because they want to remain homeless. They do not want to get a job; else they will no longer be homeless because they can already pay rent.
America must work towards a reputation of having the most number of homeless people. Being a first world country and a super power among nations, they must show the other countries that having a lot of homeless people means that there are many people who want to live in their country. Even if the homeless population is huge, so many individuals still dream of going to America.
Should America choose to address its economic and financial crisis first, homelessness might come to an end. If the economy improves, then unemployment will decrease, veterans will be given the necessary support they need and affordable housing will be available to more people. More investments will come in if the economy improves but that will mean that homelessness in America will be eradicated. America will not be America if there are no more homeless people. The government should therefore not solve the economic crisis because there will be no more homeless people to assist and support. The humanitarian side of the government will not be witnessed if there will no longer be people to help. Americans must consequently view homelessness as part of its society. Homelessness will always be present as long as the priorities of the government are focused on Wall Street and not on the people on the streets.
- National Alliance to End Homelessness. “SOH 2012: Chapter One – Homelessness counts.” 17 January 2012. endhomelessness.org. Web. 23 April 2012 <http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/4362>.