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Miami and Vulnerable Populations


Miami is one of the more famous cities in the United States. It is located in Florida and has a dense and highly diverse population. The majority of its citizens live in the urban environment. Most of them are middle-aged, but younger people are also relatively common. Older citizens are mostly the minority, especially in comparison to other cities in Florida. One of the vulnerable populations present in the city is homeless people. There is a variety of issues they experience daily, and, despite the efforts of social workers, not everyone is able to receive support in time of need. This paper will provide an overview of such vulnerable populations as the homeless and the health issues that they face.

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Vulnerable Population Overview

According to the Homeless Trust Census from 2017, there are currently 609 unsheltered homeless people living in the city of Miami and 1723 sheltered ones. While these numbers may seem low for such a densely populated city, they are unlikely to be fully accurate. A large number of homeless people may refuse to participate in the census. Therefore, it is impossible to accurately determine the number of people living in the city of Miami without a home (Hatsu, Hade, & Campa, 2017). Due to the unique nature of homelessness, people who belong to this population vary drastically in their ethnic background, beliefs, attitude, and health conditions. A large number of people became homeless due to debt caused by medical bills so that they may be less responsive to medical services.

While the majority of homeless people tend to accept medical help, shelter, and other services that may be accessed in the city, it is not a uniform response. Homeless people’s reaction to support may be aggressive due to a variety of factors. Some may be suspicious of unknown people approaching them, while others may have untreated mental conditions. Therefore, people should be careful when approaching homeless people. Due to a lack of employment opportunities, the homeless often have to rely on begging and social services to sustain themselves.

Strengths, Risk Factors, and/or Barriers

A multitude of strengths, risk factors, and barriers exists for the homeless people of Miami. One of the most effective strengths comes from the social services and support they provide to the homeless. Important resources such as food, water, medical help, and other services are available to the homeless in a limited capacity. This service is expensive to maintain, and it often relies on charitable donations which are not guaranteed to be sustainable. Nevertheless, their efforts are highly beneficial to the health condition of homeless people. Some organizations also collect information about the homeless to track yearly changes in their population, prominent health issues, and other data. Another positive influence on the vulnerable population’s health is the climate of the city. Most of the year, the weather is warm or hot, which prevents people from freezing to death or catching associated illnesses. It also leads to fewer clothes being needed to ensure survival.

According to Beharry (2012), the risk factors for homeless people are numerous. The researcher states that those who are completely unsheltered, risk their life by continuously staying on the streets. While for the majority of the year, the weather is warm, there may be colder periods during which people might be exposed to cold weather for prolonged periods of time. Another risk factor is related to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, which are present in the vulnerable population (Behary, 2012). The primary issues for homeless people are underfunding and trust. Most medical services require expensive supplies and machinery, which makes it difficult to provide them to all homeless people. However, some homeless people deliberately choose not to utilize outside help due to a lack of trust in the organizations that provide it.

Community Resources

The primary resource in the City of Miami is Camillus Health Concern, which provides a variety of services to homeless people. Their facilities allow for a number of essential medical procedures that may be multidisciplinary, preventative, and supplemental in nature. All patients are welcome, regardless of sex and age. The organization is an official member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and its efforts have already provided a lot of people with health services. Their services are adequate for resolving the majority of homeless health issues due to the variety of services they provide.

Community Health Problem Diagnosis

HIV is a serious issue for the homeless. Due to the high likelihood of drug use and unprotected sex, homeless people are continuously at risk of HIV infection (Beer, Mattson, Bradley, & Skarbinski, 2016). Unfortunately, due to rare health checks, an infected person might not be aware of their condition and spread it to others unwittingly. Healthy People 2020 lists HIV infections as a major public crisis, with an estimated number of infected Americans being 1.2 million (U.S. Department of Health, 2017). One of the main ways to reduce instances of infection is raising awareness of the disease among the vulnerable population. Free health checks may be needed, as well as care for those who are infected.

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Miami is a densely populated city with a large number of people living without proper housing. Homeless are supported by various organizations, but at times they refuse help. HIV is one of the most serious health issues in the community. Therefore, it should be addressed through increased awareness, screenings, and care.


Beer, L., Mattson, C. L., Bradley, H., & Skarbinski, J. (2016). Understanding cross-sectional racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in antiretroviral use and viral suppression among HIV patients in the United States. Medicine, 95(13), 3171. Web.

Beharry, M. S. (2012). Health issues in the homeless youth population. Pediatric annals, 41(4), 154-156.

Hatsu, I., Hade, E., & Campa, A. (2017). Food security status is related to mental health quality of life among persons living with HIV. AIDS and Behavior, 21(3), 745–753. Web.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). Healthy People 2020: Topics and objectives. Web.

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