Homeless: Who Are They? In 2005, NCH (National Coalition for the Homeless) estimated 3.5 million people experience homelessness in the US every year (NCH,1). But what is homelessness? Jim Baumohl, a noted author, explained in Homelessness in America, the most common definition of homelessness used by researchers is the “absence of belonging to a specific place or to people” (NCH, 3). However, there is no set definition, due to the variety of living conditions a homeless person encounters, and the opinions of the researchers. As Baumohl pointed out, “homelessness is but the latest of many research topics in which the population of interest is not clearly defined” (NCH, 15). Even though there is no clear definition of the homeless, the
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When the mental health problems are combined with poor hygiene and lack of education, many cannot properly care for themselves. The most common mental illness among homeless is schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (NCH,1). Unfortunately, these two diseases put an individual in vulnerable situations and are the most dangerous mental illnesses to live with. They are almost impossible to recover from. NCH explained “Many programs for homeless with mental illnesses do not accept people with substance abuse disorders, and programs for homeless substance abusers do not treat people with mental illnesses” (NCH, 2). Since substance abuse and mental illness usually coincide among the homeless, treatment facilities are making it nearly impossible for the homeless to acquire correct treatment and housing. Along with mental illness, comes physical health problems; the most occurring disease among homeless persons is HIV/AIDS. People with HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of becoming homeless and people who are homeless have a higher risk of contracting the disease.
There are multiple reasons for the homeless to be the most commonly found with the disease(s). Many homeless people are ones with HIV because of the discrimination shown to the citizens with the illness (Hombs, 49). People with HIV are likely to lose their job, which then leads to lack of income (NCH, 1). With no money and no health care,