Homelessness in Rochester, NY Analysis

Homelessness is a prevalent issue in some areas in the United States, particularly in the state of New York. For various reasons, such as poverty, people lose their places of residence and are forced to live on the streets. The government provides shelters where these people can pass nights safely, but the facilities cannot accommodate every individual due to their number. Homeless people are at risk of illness and death due to a variety of issues, such as exposure and crime. Therefore, they should be a particular focus of the government’s and social workers’ efforts. However, the state is currently not doing enough to answer the issue, as shown by the escalating number of homeless people. This proposal collects information about homelessness in Rochester, NY, to call attention to the concern and propose possible interventions.

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Statistics and Numbers

The New York state is among the most problematic territories in the nation with regards to homelessness. Rochester is a moderately concerning area in the region, with “New York” (2019) claiming it has an average of 11.2 homeless people per 10,000 residents as opposed to the state’s 46. The presence of New York City, which houses a large portion of the state’s population and has a vast statistic of 91 homeless people per 10,000, informs the disparity. As a result, the average is high, even though most areas in the state do not have more than ten homeless people in every 10,000. When viewed from this perspective, Rochester is a slight outlier that nevertheless warrants attention.

Other reports support the finding and highlight the continuous escalation of the homelessness issue in the United States as a whole and in New York, specifically. Green (2019) notes that there over 835 people do not have homes to return to in Monroe county every night. The author adds that New York’s homelessness rates are tied with Hawaii for the highest in the nation and that overall, homelessness in the United States has been continuously increasing since 2016. The figures are causes for concern, as they show that the rest of the New York state has been suffering from the same issues as New York City, though to a lesser degree. It is necessary to identify these problems and respond to them adequately with both policy and social work.

Potential Causes

Poverty tends to be the foremost cause of homelessness, as the condition usually results from a person’s inability to afford housing. Jiménez (2017) claims that Rochester’s unusually high poverty rates are likely responsible for the escalation of the crisis, with new facilities filling up to capacity the moment they opened. The situation has become significantly worse since the time of the article’s writing, with the numbers of people who sleep in the streets going up from 50 to nearly 900. As such, it is possible to surmise that past efforts to remedy the issue have been unsuccessful. A new approach that is based on comprehensive knowledge of the county’s situation is necessary if one intends to resolve the issue.

Housing is another important aspect of the problem, as the price of a house defines the limit at which poverty transforms into homelessness. “Housing” (2019) notes that the United States is in the middle of a severe housing crisis and that numerous low-income households have to pay half or more of their income into housing. As is established above, Rochester has many people and families who live below the poverty line, and this tendency affects it strongly. The issue of housing is challenging to resolve because the problem is widespread across the entire nation. However, it is necessary to do so, as people cannot stop being homeless if there are no houses that they can occupy.

Racial inequality may be another issue that affects Rochester, though additional research will be necessary to ascertain the presence of any disparities. “Racial inequality” (2019) claims that African Americans, American Indians, Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are all overrepresented in the nation’s homeless population, with the first category being particularly problematic. The cause of such differences is likely implicit, unconscious social bias instead of any intentional mistreatment. As such, it is going to be challenging to analyze the issue and develop solutions because inequality likely affects all spheres of life. Furthermore, the factor may not be as relevant in Rochester as in other parts of the country due to its other prevalent issues.

Domestic violence may be one such concern, as there are reports of it being a notable problem in the area. “Domestic violence” (2019) highlights how people may immediately end up homeless after leaving an abusive relationship and how the issue affects many different population categories. Green (2019) describes “the breakdown of family relationships” as the most significant reason for emergency shelter stays in Rochester. While the article does not say so outright, the statement is likely an implication that domestic abuse is a significant concern that drives many people to leave their homes. Such situations would likely continue regardless of the economic status of the residents, and the problem requires separate measures for its resolution.

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Temporary homelessness is problematic, but mostly unavoidable due to the reasons described above. However, some homeless people fail to recover from their issues and remain on the streets as a result. According to “Health” (2019), homeless people have higher than average rates of various severe conditions, both physical and mental, and are prone to substance abuse. As a result, they can have difficulties holding a job, especially because they do not have the same support as what middle-class people can afford. Without a job, they cannot earn money, and as a result, their issues escalate and become worse.

The government has to oversee such people and make sure that they have access to the facilities they need to help themselves. However, D’Amico and Klofas (2012) claim that there are many inefficiencies in how Rochester’s homeless response system manages the situation. “Homelessness in Rochester” (n.d.) shows that the local government’s 10-year plan to end homelessness expired in 2017, with no replacement currently available.

Moreover, as “Homeless information: New York” (n.d.) shows, most efforts to address homelessness in the state focus on New York City, and areas such as Rochester are often ignored. As a result, even with additional investment, the city will not be able to accommodate people in the numbers necessary to resolve the issue. An extensive audit that produces relevant recommendations for improvement is necessary to understand and enhance the operation of the service.

Conclusion

Many different issues create homelessness in the United States, and some of them manifest prominently in Rochester. The area is not among the most problematic in the nation, but its homelessness rates are higher than the average across the state (with the exclusion of New York City) and the country. The authorities identify domestic violence and poverty as prominent causes of the problem, but a more extensive investigation will be necessary to determine whether other factors are relevant. Once the problems have been identified, researchers will be able to propose changes that will help reduce the scale of the issue.

References

D’Amico, A., & Klofas, J. (2012). The homeless gap analysis: Investigating the homeless response system in Rochester, N.Y. Web.

Domestic violence. (2019). Web.

Green, K. (2019). Report: On any given night, there are 835 people homeless in Rochester area. Rochester First. Web.

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Health. (2019). Web.

Homeless information: New York. (n.d.). Web.

Homelessness in Rochester. (n.d.). Web.

Housing. (2019). Web.

Jiménez, A. (2017). Poverty, opioid crisis driving up homelessness in Rochester. Catholic Courier. Web.

New York. (2019). Web.

Racial inequality. (2019). Web.

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