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Homeless as Vulnerable Population in the US


The vulnerable population that will be examined throughout this paper is homeless people. The geographic scope is limited to the USA to facilitate data mining and analysis. This population has been selected since a recent study has determined “a drastic surge” in the number of entire families that have nowhere to live (Mai, Turner, & Salman, 2015, p. 688). As such, it is considered critical to overview the relevant statistics and to analyze this group and the associated aspects of vulnerability within three dimensions: resource availability, relative risks, and health status. It is assumed that the application of the Vulnerable Population Conceptual Model (VCPM) will help to evaluate the scope of the problem adequately. It is likewise expected that the model will help to point out the most critical points that need to be addressed at both social and federal levels.

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Description of the Population

According to the recent report published by National Alliance to End Homelessness (2016), 564,708 US residents are homeless. This number comprises both those who are chronically homeless and those who had been homeless for more than a week at the time of the research. The report likewise points out that most vulnerable population groups are veterans, young people, LGBTQ youth, and people over 50 years old. Those groups that are about to become homeless are also large. Thus, for instance, the report says that almost 1.5 million US veterans belong to a risk group which means they might potentially become homeless due to the lack of the relevant resource or health disorders.

In the meantime, the report likewise points out a positive trend. As such, the scope of homeless people has generally reduced by 2% throughout the past two years. The most significant changes can be observed among families – the number of homeless families has decreased by 4.6%. Meanwhile, homelessness rates vary from states to states (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2016).

Application of Vulnerable Population Conceptual Model (VPCM)

Resource Availability

US government makes a lot of effort to improve the situation and ensure that homeless population is provided with the essential resources. As such, homeless people can currently use such options as emergency shelters that can be used either nightly or for a short period. Another assistive option is transitional housing that can be used as a temporary habitat for a two-year period. There are likewise such services as permanent supportive housing and re-rehousing. On the whole, the total amount of the supportive units of all kinds makes 805,791 shelters. It is also important to note that formerly houseless people are covered with special stabilization programs that are aimed at helping them to integrate into the new environment and return to the traditional lifestyle. On the whole, the report shows that resource availability keeps improving. Thus, for instance, the amount of supporting housing shelters has increased by 69.2% throughout the past two years (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2016).

Relative Risks

The most critical risks that are commonly pointed out in relation to homelessness are health-related issues. Additionally, homelessness tends to be associated with increased mortality rates, intensive criminal activity, and severe moral distress. The last element includes a wide range of psychological implications such as depression, loneliness, and distrust to name but a few. Marshall et al. (2009) likewise point out the increased rate of drug dependence among homeless people that makes their reintegration in the society almost impossible.

Health Status

National Alliance to End Homelessness (2016) notes that homeless people avoid attending healthcare organizations. Therefore, it is highly problematic to evaluate the health status of this population accurately. In the meantime, the report summarizes that the major part of the homeless population exhibits either slight or severe mental disorders. Additionally, it puts a particular emphasis on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders that often become a driver of a person’s becoming homeless. Since these problems are not properly addressed, they tend to emerge into more critical illnesses.

Marshal et al. (2009) likewise put a particular emphasis on a high incidence of HIV transmission among the young subgroup of the homeless population. The authors note that due to the unfavorable environment the transmission rate is constantly rising, and the lack of the relevant healthcare support signifies that it is likely to continue growing in the nearest perspective.

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The analysis of the selected group has shown that homeless people in the US are particularly vulnerable in terms of related risks and health-related issues. From the standpoint of the resources available for this population, the trend is positive since the number of supporting options such as beds and shelters keeps growing from year to year. In the meantime, the availability of the resources seems to be insufficient to ensure consistent assistance to this group. Thus, the incidence of mental and infectious illnesses is fairly high as well as the rate of criminal activity and drug dependence. As such, it might be concluded it is essential to focus on eliminating the drivers of people’s homelessness to address the problem effectively.

Reference List

National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2016). The state of homelessness in America. Web.

Mai, A. R., Turner, F. J., & Salman, E. (2015). The U.S. homeless student population: Homeless youth education, review of research classifications and typologies, and the U.S. federal legislative response. Child & Youth Care Forum, 44(5), 687-709.

Marshall, B. D. L., Kerr, T., Shoveller, J. A., Patterso, T. L., Buxton, J. A., & Wood, E. (2009). Homelessness and unstable housing associated with an increased risk of HIV and STI transmission among street-involved youth. Health & Place, 15(3), 783-790.

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