Homelessness continues to be a seemingly intractable issue in America. According to the State of Homelessness in America 2016, a definitive report that carefully examines any trends, assistance, and population at risk of homelessness throughout United States, approximately 549, 928 individuals become homeless in just one night.
The Truth about Homelessness
Everyone should know that individuals who suffer from homelessness aren’t actually ‘the homeless’ people. Moreover, they must not be viewed as an identical group. Typically, the homeless pertains to people who suffer different types of crises associated with housing.
Simply put, it means not having a permanent home. However, many homeless people don’t literally sleep on the sidewalks. Most of them get some quick help from local authorities that have a legal duty to assist them. The legal meaning of homeless differs from country to country, or within the different jurisdictions in the same country or region.
Meanwhile, the homeless are classified into three categories namely transitional, chronic, and episodic.
When you say chronic homelessness, they refer to people who are likely to be rooted in the housing system and for whom houses are more like long-term shelters rather than a temporary arrangement. Generally, these people are older and are comprised of the ‘hard-core unemployed’ and who often experience disabilities as well as substance abuse issues.
This pertains to homeless individuals who usually enter a shelter system and stay there for a short period of time.
They are people who, most of the time, shuttle in and out of homelessness. They are popularly known as episodically homeless. Compared to the transitional homeless, episodic homeless people are often young and unemployed.
Are Most People Homeless Because Of Drugs And Alcohol?
It is hard to target exactly the number of people who do not have a home and who have problems with drugs and alcohol abuse. According to the USHUD (U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development), “more than 4 in 10 individual homeless adults (42.9%) have disabilities, which include drug and alcohol problems.” This figure can be associated with the 14% of adults who have incapacities and who live without homes and families.
Drug and alcohol usage and homelessness are linked in accordance to whether or not an individual is homeless for a short term or a long term period. In 2009, the USHUD stated that approximately 5% of about 2 million homeless individuals were considered chronically homeless. Almost all people living with no homes for over a month carry some family issues and some kind of disability, which involves drug or alcohol addiction and mental illness.
In the 2009 HUD Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, nearly one-third of the protected homeless individuals were reported to have chronic substance abuse issues. However, in contrast to the views that some homeless individuals have these problems, majority of the users of homeless shelters do not possess prolonged substance abuse problems or even severe mental illness.
Through the varying rates and figures on chronic and short-term homelessness, the lack of accurate data regarding disability, homeless individuals, and homeless families, it is hard to arrive at a definite conclusion on the relationship between homelessness and addiction. However, it seems rational to conclude that alcohol and drugs can play a crucial role in forcing an individual to take to the streets.
Recent studies linked homelessness to:
These include lack of affordable and good quality housing, poverty as well as unemployment. Several individuals are now at risk of getting the label of ‘homeless’ due to the financial crisis that has affected vulnerable people in society.
Those who have lived under foster care, along with abandoned young kids, have a high risk of becoming homeless. Aside from them, people who leave mental institutions or prisons with nowhere to go during their discharge or release may end up homeless.
So, who’s The Real Victim Here?
This situation impacts not just the people or family , but the community and systems of care as well. Most of all, it affects the mother’s well-being and the development of children. All in all, everyone is affected by this alarming issue.
In case you missed the bulletin, homelessness was named a ‘crisis’ during late 1990s by the mayors of the major cities of Canada. Recently, a specific United Nations agency took its assessment of the entire situation, describing homelessness in Canada as a ‘national emergency’. In fact, it further elaborates that homelessness may happen to anyone, regardless of his color, creed, or origin. Not even gender or age can save anyone from this crisis. Everyone could be the victim.
City sidewalks wouldn’t be complete without homeless children walking with no direction. The Philadelphia Tribune stated in one of their articles that approximately 1.4 million kids are homeless in America annually.
As per ICP USA, even before these kids are born, their health is inextricably related to the health of their parents. Almost half of the homeless women didn’t get the chance to have a prenatal visit during the first three months of their pregnancy unlike the 15% of women in the overall population. Substance abuse, along with lack of prenatal care, significantly affects the health of babies. Roughly, one-fifth of homeless women allegedly have drug and alcohol abuse when they are pregnant. This increases the hazard of adverse birth results like low birth weight. Likewise, the frequency and duration of homelessness also lead to low birth weight.
In fact, homeless kids show more health problems as well as unmet medical needs compared to low-income and housed kids. They do experience chronic illnesses such as neurologic disorders and heart diseases or acute illnesses like upper respiratory infections. Because of poor nutrition, they are seven times more likely to suffer from iron deficiencies, leading to anemia.
Obesity is a common nutritional problem, too. A research in Los Angeles discovered that roughly 12% of the city’s homeless kids aged five years old and below were quite obese. The ICP analysis of national Head Start figured out that approximately 38.3% of kids within the program who suffer from housing instability were labeled as obese or overweight.
Parent’s Health Status is at Risk as Well
Although there’s no data available for adults in families, most homeless individuals experience three to six times the rate of injury and serious illness. Homelessness increases the danger and severity brought about by some specific health conditions.
This is true especially for mothers of kids aged four and below. Their socioeconomic status is associated with their mental health. According to reports, almost 33.4% of mothers who belong to the lowest part of society suffer from depressive symptoms.
A Massachusetts research demonstrated that the rate of psychiatric disability increased three times higher than the average among homeless mothers. This maternal psychological distress can affect the behavioral and emotional health of homeless children in a negative way.
What are the Possible Solutions for Homelessness?
The cause and effects of homelessness are too complicated and so are the solutions. Though communities and individuals could act to address this concern, the government still plays a crucial role in getting rid of homelessness. That can be possible through public policy.
In Canada, the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness created an outline of possible actions, which the government can perform to put an end to this crisis. Thus, policy makers must support activities in:
Getting sufficient income. It includes a number of income support programs (such as Social Assistance and Employment Insurance) along with job search support, job skills, as well as training programs.
Cost-efficient housing. This mainly includes emergency housing (like cold-wet weather beds and shelters), supportive housing, transitional housing, and independent housing.
Support services. Policy makers must also focus on prevention, counseling, hot meal programs, drop-in services, and even health services that address problems like podiatry, dentistry, mental and nutrition health. These community- based support programs connect with services and establish social inclusion, which can back transitions right from homelessness, in order to stop social isolation.
Prevent Homelessness: Start with Yourself
If you won’t do anything, prefer to spend a miserable life down the road. But if you want to step out of the pit, there’s one way to get out of homelessness. Decide to Get Out! Here’s the trick.
Keep in mind that risk is an inherent part of your financial life.
On a daily basis, life throws unexpected things toward us. With this in mind, you should not expect that life filters negative things and grant you with positive ones. Risk is inevitable, so it is always advisable that you get yourself well prepared for anything that might come your way. This way, you would be able to surpass these challenges without fear.
Learn to manage risks.
There’s no need to attend any university just to learn risk management. Your fifth-grade teacher might have told you once that life is the best teacher of all. However, passive effort won’t be enough to get you abreast with the most commendable ways in getting rid of risks.
As such, you might want to consult a financial expert, especially if you are a newbie. Doing a little legwork from time to time can pile up significant bits of knowledge that can make you become fully competent in facing risks. As a result, you would be able to spare yourself from financial catastrophes that can ruin your endeavor.
Stick to your goal.
When you are driven by a realistic goal, you are equipped with a double layer of protection against the rat race. No matter what happens, you must always adhere to your cause and you would always see the bright light at the end of the line. Apart from that, you should always couple it with strong will power in order to be resistant to whatever life throws at you. There are lots of people who are trapped in the rat race because they keep on working on working without any definite goal. If you don’t want the same thing to happen to you, set and stick to your goal now.
Do not fear.
This simply means that you must be equipped with self-confidence. Granted, there are many challenges that you will be dealing on the way, but there’s no reason for you to hold back in pursuing the desire of your heart. If you let fear prevail over you, you are already closing the door for growth and you let yourself fall behind on the rat race.
There you have it — the real trick to get out of homelessness. If you are already a victim of this detrimental cycle, fret not because there’s still a gleam of hope to cling on to. Just believe in yourself and you, together with your family, would be able to take on the devastating challenges of homelessness.
Every member of society needs a safe home to stay in and to live life as most Americans do. With full support from the government, together with other private sectors within the country, the housing status in America is considered to be continuously progressing or improving through the years. Since the main goal of the United States, together with its cities, is to simply provide housing needs for every citizen, in turn leading to a progressive economy and country, the programs created are then greatly supported. This goal would be foreseen as success through the continuous and joint efforts of all citizens in the country.
In conclusion, understanding homelessness is of great help as a way of understanding the status of the country with regards to housing needs and projects. Since one of the most important needs of every citizen is having a place to stay (or having a home), the country assures its citizens that it would provide this in ways they know. These include providing housing grants and loans and a lot more. America is visualizing a better country with no homeless citizens for the coming years, in turn leading to economic growth and development.
Save our fellow citizens from being homeless. Visit http://www.borderlesscharity.org for more information.
Lyon, E., Lane, S., & Menard, A. (2008). Meeting survivors’ needs: A multi-state study of
domestic violence shelter experiences. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
Family & Youth Services Bureau. (2016, June 24). Domestic Violence and Homelessness:
Statistics (2016). Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/fysb/resource/dv-
Thoeni, K. (2017). Homelessness In Our Community Affects Us All. Retrieved from
Hernandez, D. (2017, February 16). How America Counts Its Homeless — And Why So Many Are
Overlooked. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-
Friedman, T. L. (2016, November 8). Homeless in America. Retrieved from