Our text illustrates that there are various populations within the homeless community. These people are homeless for different reasons, whether its voluntary or involuntarily. Runaways and Victims of
Homelessness is a social problem that is prevalent around the world. Homelessness has existed for much of "civilized" human history. In the last two centuries, homelessness and changed and expanded. Sociologists who study and research homelessness have argued over its formal definition for decades, though for some, the definition of homelessness seems self explanatory and obvious. The paper will examine homelessness, particularly as a sociological issue, or a social issue seen from a sociological perspective. The paper will additionally reference sociological theory as a means of explanation for homelessness, such its causes, the demographics/populations, and other prominent known characteristics of homeless people. There are individuals and groups who choose to be, from a normative societal perspective, homeless, but for a great deal of the homeless population, it can be a treacherous and tragic lifestyle that is a result of a distinct set of social, societal, and individual factors.
In the United States the homeless population continues to grow rapidly. Homelessness has been a public health issue for many decades. Often times these individuals feel as though society has turned a blind eye to them. This at risk population is seen by society as lazy or chose to live a life on the streets, but if one would examine this population closely would see that there is more to this at risk population than what society has labeled them as. The forces, which affect homelessness, are multifaceted. Social forces such as family breakdown, addictions, and mental illnesses are in combined with structural forces such as lack of low-cost housing, insufficient health services, and poor economic conditions. Many would
Currently, the rates of homelessness in America continue to drastically increase. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2012) depicted how many people are homeless in a single night in America. The findings revealed that there were approximately 633,782 people who are homeless in America or 20 out of every 10,000. Approximately 394,379 are single individuals and 239,403 are people in families with 77,157 homeless families in a single night, and approximately 162, 246 are children. Veterans are more likely to be homeless than those who are non-veterans, approximately 29 out of every 10,000 veterans are homeless. Unfortunately, 38 percent of those who are homeless are unsheltered, either living on the streets or in places that are not suitable for human inhabitation. Most states account of for less than 1% of homeless population, whereas Texas contains approximately 5.4% of America’s homeless population. In San Antonio, there are approximately 2,981 people who are homeless each day, and 1,243 are unsheltered. Through a sociological perspective, the social problems of homelessness can be analyzed through the concept of sociological imagination, the comparison of the person-blame approach and the system-blame approach, and through the analysis of one’s own community’s effort in helping those who are homeless.
I find it is most appropriate to begin with the causes of homelessness in America. The circumstances are unique and it is difficult to pinpoint one main cause. As stated in the most recent annual survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, major cities across the country report that the top four causes of homelessness among families were: lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and low wages. The same report found that the top causes of homelessness among solitary individuals were lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, mental illness accompanied by the lack of needed services, and substance abuse. For women in particular, though, domestic violence is the primary reason for experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness in America has existed for some time now, but has grown and changed majorly over the years since the 1980’s. According to Mary Hombs, “the prevailing stereotype of a homeless person was that of a middle-aged white urban male alcoholic” (6). But now there is no stereotype because homelessness could happen to anyone at any moment, so that is why it important to be aware. Millions of people in this country do not have a place to live including whole families, children, veterans, and even the mentally ill. Going day after day without food or shelter. Throughout this paper the main focus will be answering the questions: What is homelessness?; What are the main causes of homelessness?: Who is the homeless?; and How do the people of this country assist the homeless?
Homelessness has been a consistent concern since the colonization of the United States and the separation from England. However, despite the desire for new beginnings once arriving in the States, old circumstances remained and an adoption of previous solutions was implemented. The term used for those homeless has transitioned throughout the decades; however, the beginning expression used was vagrants (Levinson & Ross, 2007). This term was given due to the connotation of being “…wanderers without a home, but also likely to participate in criminal activity” (Levinson & Ross, p. 1, 2007). Though this terminology is not as prevalent today, the negative association between homelessness and crime still exists.
Seeing homelessness develop is a process that the older generation can say they have been apart of. The young generation, on the other hand, cannot say they have seen the development of homelessness. People who are thirty years old or younger have grown up believing that homelessness was always part of the landscape. The younger generation has come to believe that there have always been homeless people sitting on park benches. When an individual is asked what they see most in a large city like Chicago or New York, ‘homeless people’ is a common response. According to the United States Census Bureau, 320.8 million individuals currently live in the United States of America. Imagine the proportion of individuals that do not own a car or even a house to live in. The National Law Center on Homelessness and poverty did studied to conclude that in America more than 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year. Those concerned with the issue of homelessness are curious as to what events had to have happened that lead to the individuals living on the streets. The reasons are different for each and every person. Some of the more major issues that contribute to this are lack of affordable housing, declining welfare assistance, and most importantly, mental illness. Resolving the issue of homelessness is very possible with new ways of housing and treatment for the mentally ill. The relation between the homeless and the mental illness has risen, and the United States as a whole
Structural factors of homelessness affect people due to circumstances and out of the control of the individual while individual factors are individual apply to the surroundings of a homeless person. Structural factors such as the availability of low-income housing and higher rental of housing exacerbate on the already burdening individual factors. Many researchers contribute homelessness to structural factors but advocates of human rights debunk this and highlights that the main reason for homelessness is due to mostly individual factors, which are health problems, poverty, and family breakdown also the domestic violence of women and child. Addressing the driving causes is the most significant strategy to minimize the homelessness population. Future research must put more attention on individual causes without denying the reality of structural causes (Main, 1998). Based on my research, individual factors are the main cause while the structural factors put more pressure on burdening individual factors that lead to
In the United States, almost 2 people out of every 1000 people experience homelessness (National Alliance to End Homelessness). In 2014, statistics have revealed that on any given night, almost half a million people experienced homelessness. Many people have a misconception that homelessness simply means living on the street. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests homelessness is a whole spectrum. According to the HUD, people experiencing homelessness are people who don’t have a fixed and regular residence (shelter, house, hotel, etc…), people running away from all sorts of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and/or people living in places not intended for residence, such as streets, cars, etc...(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Regardless of what definition society uses, homelessness is, and will always be, unjust.
Unemployment and lack of education plays a major role in these individual homeless people’s lives. With unemployment and high school dropout rates rising, homelessness cannot be prevented. Kids are taught from a young age to stay in school because the ones that dropout around high school is more than likely to become homeless. High school dropouts are likely to become homeless because they are likely to get kicked out of their dysfunctional home, or possibly run away from home feeling as if they are not good enough for the family. Dropouts will find it difficult to preserve a job, most will turn to drugs, becoming an addict, only hoping that it will make things better, really just increasing the rate of poverty and homelessness.
A homeless person is an individual without a permanent, stable housing situation who either spends his or her nights on the streets or in temporary facilities, such as shelters and abandoned buildings. Throughout history, society has been “holding the poor, rape or incest victims, minorities, or the handicapped responsible for their misfortunes” (Zur). Society has been blaming the homeless for being in the position they are in. However, upon closer inspection, it must be noted that “children under the age of 18 accounts for 39% of the homeless population…battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness…[and] 40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces” (Who Is Homeless?). It is clear that those who are homeless are not
Homelessness affects millions of people every year. Homelessness is an endless epidemic that continues to grow. There isn’t one specific causal factor to this every increasing population. Individuals experiencing homelessness come from various backgrounds and cultures physically, financially, and emotionally. They could be considered the melting pot for diversity. Often times individuals experiencing homeless are judged by their outer appearance with no regard for the contributing factors to the situation. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “in January 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Of that number, 216,197 are people in families, and 362,163 are individuals” (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2015). The homeless population contains “about 15 percent who are considered to be chronically homeless and 9 percent are homeless veterans” (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2015).
The Problems and causes of homelessness are closely intertwined, with many of the problems of homelessness also sharing common source with the causes of homelessness. Narrative comments are included. There are three central themes that are highlighted in the cases. Mental health plays a large role in the cause and problem of homelessness as displayed by Stephanie’s experience as “her parents asked her to leave home. Stephanie had suffered from anxieties and bipolar”. Abusive relationships are also experienced frequently amongst the participants illustrated by Lauren and her children as it is noted “her husband was manipulative and abusive to her and the children”. Exposure to drugs is another theme of homelessness demonstrated by Elle’s
As many as 3.5 million Americans are considered homeless each year. Often, people believe that homelessness is a complication only caused by the poor choices of a single person when they are typically the result of multiple uncontrollable factors. For some, the line between being homeless and not can be very thin, with several obstacles preventing stability. These individuals and families commonly come from more deprived areas. Those who are homeless can be very different to each other in how and why they came to be in their situation, but they all have in common their desire to find a way back to a normal and healthy lifestyle. Homelessness is an issue created by poor physical and mental health, a lack of money, and relationship complications.