Essay about Homlessness in Amerika

Submitted By Majcek85
Words: 1869
Pages: 8

Homlessness In America

The United States of America is often referred to as “the land of the free” or “the greatest country in the world.” But for people who actually live here and see tens of thousands of men, women, and children walking the streets everyday with no home to go to, it is hard to believe that people could even categorized this country with a name so impressive. I agree that homelessness is not a problem just of the United States it is one of the world and we must work together to find a way to solve it. (1)
In many ways, homelessness represents a new social problem. Excluding during the time of the Great Depression, women and children have never before been on our nation’s streets in such significant numbers. During the 1980s, cutbacks in government benefits attached with rapidly increasing rents and a scarcity of low-income housing jeopardized the stability of all people on reduced or fixed incomes. As a result, the nation’s population of homeless families swelled from almost minor numbers to nearly 1.4 million. In the United States, 3.5 million people experience homelessness during the course of a year. Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, accounting for almost 40 percent of the nation’s homeless. (3) What still confounds many Americans, however is why homeless appears to have become an unchallengeable socio-economic condition in this nation, such that our children may not know an America without it. Most of us can agree that America has a strong economy, jobs are available so why doesn’t the “American Dream” work for everybody? (8)
As easy as it seems it is also frustrating that our political leaders in both the White House and Congress have shifted away from the need to address the systematic causes of homelessness and focus nearsightedly and simplistically on the individual responsibility of those who become homeless for the misfortune deemed to be of their own making. It is this naivety and stubbornness that has served to enable the growth of homelessness and will continue to do so if we do not finally reckon with poverty in this nation. (8)
Homelessness can be caused by a variety of problems. The main cause is unaffordable housing for the poor. The largest cut was from 1993 through 1995, when there was a loss of 900,000 or 10 percent of affordable housing units. In order to find an explanation for the shortage, we can simply look to Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget in 1995, which is one-third of what it was in 1980. (3) Secondary causes include mental illness, physical illnesses, substance abuse, lack of incentives to work, poor work ethics, and lack of a decent education. The National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty reports that over 3 million men, women, and children were homeless over the past year – about 30% of them persistently and the others temporarily. (1) In many cases people are in and out of the homeless system, which includes shelters, hospitals, the streets, and prisons. In the United States today 49 percent of homeless people are in their first experience of homelessness, while 34 percent have been homeless three or more times. For 28 percent of homeless people, their current episode has lasted three months or less, but for 30 percent it has lasted for more than two years. Persons in families are more than twice as likely as single clients to have been homeless for three months or less (49 versus 23 percent), while single clients are almost three times as likely as people in families to be in homeless spells that have lasted more than two years (34 versus 13 percent). (2) Difficulties caused by lack of affordable housing and lack of shelter space is exacerbated by restrictions on who is deemed eligible for shelter. By enforcing restrictive eligibility criteria, communities may reduce spending on homelessness and minimize the size of their sheltered homeless populations, but they also inflict physical and emotional harm to