The Nature of the Problem
The problem in question is concerned with one of the acutest burdens of young people living in the Waianae area of Hawaii: homelessness. Due to a number of factors, the rate of youths leaving homes is drastically high in this region. Domestic violence, adverse behaviors of parents, or other negative issues become triggers for children’s and adolescents’ decision to run away from home. What is more, some children are born to homeless parents, and they do not know any other life than that in the streets. The project aims at identifying policy goals the fulfillment of which will promote the successful development and implementation of policy alternatives focused on eliminating youth homelessness in Waianae.
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The issue of youth homelessness is the focus of investigation of many scholarly papers. The present review of literature will offer the synthesis of some of them. The article by Blair (2018) investigates probably the most dangerous outcome of youth homelessness: engaging in the so-called survival sex. Blair (2018) also mentions that the average age at which children in Hawaii become homeless is fourteen. A special prominence in the article is given to the fact that approximately one-fourth of homeless young people come from military families. Blair (2018) singles out the problem of the insufficient number of programs for youths that live in the streets.
This aspect is also the subject of investigation in studies by Julianelle (2008) and Withy, et al. (2008). Julianelle (2008) analyzes the need to promote education among homeless youth. In her research, the author mentions some reasons for homelessness that have not been discussed in Blair’s (2018) article. In particular, Julianelle (2008) notes that many youths decide to leave homes because their parents do not accept their sexual orientation or do not approve of their pregnancy.
Withy, et al. (2008) investigate another crucial problem related to the project, namely, health care needs of homeless people. The authors remark that compared to other age groups, young homeless people tend to have a higher health rate. However, Withy, et al. (2008) note that all homeless individuals have considerable barriers to obtaining health care, such as environmental challenges (the lack of clean water), financial problems (the impossibility to buy medicines), and the “general discomfort” with the system of health care (213).
The study by McDonell (2014) aims for the distinction between houseless and homeless people in Hawaii. Additionally, the scholar offers the list of strategies available for the mitigation of the problem, such as
- “emergency shelter,”
- “transitional shelter,”
- “housing first,”
- “outreach services” (39).
Still, the scholar concludes that these efforts are not enough to eradicate the problem of homelessness.
Snyder, et al. (2016) also admit that more effective approaches are needed to fight youth homelessness. These scholars are alarmed by the likelihood of youth to be at risk of the justice system involvement. Thus, the review of literature allows concluding that the issue of youth homelessness is the focus of investigation of many researchers, all of whom acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and emphasize the need for effective policies for its mitigation.
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The first policy goal is the reduction in homelessness episodes among the Waianae young people. This is the ultimate purpose of the project, the fulfillment of which demands the creation of suitable conditions for young people of Waianae to live with their families and not to quit their schools. To eliminate homelessness, it is necessary to perform a thorough analysis of the current situation, as well as compare it with the statistics of past decades. The goal includes the identification of risk factors for homelessness and presupposes finding solutions for these factors.
The second policy purpose is the reduction of the physical, mental, and emotional danger faced by the at-risk youth. These aspects are closely related both to the causes of homelessness and the reasons why young people are afraid to return to their homes. Thus, it is crucial to realize the main risks undermining the physical and mental health of young people and find alternatives that would cope with these risks.
The third policy goal is minimizing the public cost of dealing with homeless youth, which is one of the major reasons why it is difficult to promote similar campaigns. Currently, there is no sufficient financial support for such projects, which leads to an increasing number of problems. It is crucial to find ways to reduce the cost of managing the issue of homelessness among youth in order to fulfill the purpose of helping this population.
The first policy alternative is the implementation of youth-appropriate housing projects that will promote the development of independent living skills in the target population (National Network for Youth 2015). This knowledge is vital both for young people who have just become homeless and for those who are transitioning from this status into adult life. Without owning such skills as basic housekeeping, cooking, finance management, and others, it will be impossible for young people to appropriately accommodate in the world where they have to take care of themselves and combine home, work, and social life.
To reach the second goal, it is necessary to advertise the services of social support among homeless youth, which will lead to the opportunity for young people to share their emotions and experiences. During communication with social workers and psychologists, young people will be able to explain the situation at home that pushed them to live in the street. They could also receive some legal advice and consider suing their parents or caregivers for abusing them mentally or physically.
The third policy alternative is the introduction of workforce development programs to allow youth to be competitive in the job market (National Network for Youth 2015). This strategy is rather important since without the possibility to provide for themselves financially, young people will not be likely to get rid of their homeless status. On the contrary, when youths obtain some professional skills, they will be able to afford food and housing, which will minimize the possibility of their remaining homeless. As a result, the public cost of dealing with homeless youth would be reduced.
The Preliminary Analysis of Alternative 3
Reducing the financial burden on the public system is crucial to reach a successful solution to homelessness. In order to implement alternative 3, it will be necessary to think of successful workforce development programs. The most viable option seems to be the inclusion of such programs in schools’ extracurricular work. This approach would help to resolve two problems: school attendance and unemployment. Firstly, the children would be more likely to attend school if they knew that they could gain some professional knowledge there. Secondly, obtaining some professional skills could help homeless youths to support themselves.
Blair, Allyson. 2018. “Report: Hawaii’s homeless youth forced to engage in ‘survival sex,’ other risky behaviors.”Hawaii News Now. Web.
Julianelle, Patricia. 2008. “Using what we know: Supporting the education of unaccompanied homeless youth.” Seattle Journal for Social Justice 7 (2): 477-536.
McDonell, Martin. 2014. ”Houseless versus homeless: An exploratory study of Native Hawaiian beach dwellers on Oahu’s west coast.” PhD diss., University of Utah.
National Network for Youth. 2015. “What works to end youth homelessness?” Web.
Snyder, Susan M., Robin Hartinger-Saunders, Timothy Brezina, Elizabeth Beck, Eric R. Wright, Nicholas Forge, and Brian E. Bride. 2016. “Homeless youth, strain, and justice system involvement: An application of general strain theory.” Children and Youth Services Review 62: 90-96.
Withy, Kelley M., Francine Amoa, January M. Andaya, Megan Inada, and Shaun P. Berry. 2008. “Health care needs of the homeless of O’ahu.” Primary Health Care 67: 213-217.