The problem of homeless people in America is extremely worrisome in the context of the social and psychological well-being of the people of the country. The situation with the homeless is quite financially costly for society, resulting in support programs and economic injections. But this problem is even more painful for the homeless themselves, who are experiencing the strongest social trials as a class. Social pressures such as living on the street, poor food quality and dependence are combined with economic pressures such as extremely low incomes or the inability to earn money. The problem of the homeless has a mobile dynamic form and should be considered not only from a historical perspective but also in the context of a constantly transforming current situation. In modern economic conditions, additionally destabilized by the new orders established by the pandemic, this problem requires more close and dynamic monitoring.
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Problems with the Definition
Defining the problem of homelessness requires a more precise categorization, which would include a number of additional characteristics in addition to the basic one that defines the homeless person as a person living on the street. This definition is subject to subjective interpretation and is the result of the fact that the country is taking measures inadequate to real conditions to reduce the level of homelessness (Evans and Baker 1). The homeownership situation, especially in the context of the economic crisis, should not be described as a one-off but as having a constant and ongoing fluctuation. People are losing their homes and gaining new homes every day, and therefore the numbers set at one time are not enough to create a clear and true picture of what is happening.
The existing figures speak more about the depth of the problem but not about the real possibilities of its solution. The proposed plans to reduce homelessness state that restoration of social status in the context of homelessness is possible in only one-twentieth of the population. This is not only a tragic prospect but also expresses a sense of the impossibility of influencing the situation. It is required to find certain additional strategies that could not only form real dynamic statistics of the situation but also give it permanently positive dynamics.
State Laws and Homelessness
Such a high problem with the number of homeless families in America seems to be related to the economic policy of settlement in the country. Reliability of real estate in America seems to be an extremely relative category after the financial crisis of 2008-2009. In particular, many people know that they are at constant risk of eviction due to established bureaucratic policies. According to the general principle developed in the country, a low-income family can be evicted not just for non-payment of house rent but for a single case of non-payment even in the distant past (Goldstone, 2019). This law is applied retroactively against poor families so that property owners have the opportunity to use it more financially efficient. In states such as Atlanta, the statistical rate of evictions is extremely high due to the lack of laws governing landowners’ actions. Thus, the laws of some states, combined with the greedy behavior of property owners, are a frequent reason why families are forced to survive on the streets.
The situation in which a person finds himself on the street with his family has unbearable psychological pressure on moral and ethical attitudes. In fact, a family caught on the street experiences a real trauma that cannot be worked through while in inhuman living conditions. The problem of shame, feelings of discomfort and low ego due to the need to survive with your family is very common in the life of homeless families. Schweid describes the life of a family forced to live in a car, focusing precisely on the burning sensation of shame (150). Once all the household items are in the car that has become a new home, the psychological pressure becomes catastrophic in two days. The need to live on the road and wash exclusively in public toilets seems so humiliating that it logically leads to the feeling of one’s own uncleanness. The heads of the family begin to actually hide their family from any interaction with people since they do not want strangers to ever see them or their children in such shameful living conditions.
The Case of Rural Families
Speaking about the situation unfolding in families living outside the urban infrastructure in America, it should be noted the negative dynamics of the general condition, which seems even worse than in the city. The life of low-income or homeless rural families is, as a rule, less studied than the life and customs of an urban family. The problems faced by homeless rural families are vast and highly traumatic, starting with the lack of access to basic living conditions. Families do not have access to health care while living below the poverty line. Substance abuse is also a tragically pervasive problem in families of this class and lifestyle. An additional factor of the low quality of life is also the regular manifestation of domestic violence registered in more than half of low-income suburban families (Rollinson and Pardeck 72). The types of these crimes also vary in severity but often manifest themselves in shocking acts such as murder or rape. Cases of domestic violence and crimes against the family are recorded as occurring in much more frequent manifestations than in the urban infrastructure of the country.
The primary way to tackle the problem of homelessness in America is the most obvious and practical approach, which implies resettlement and housing for this class of the population. The practice of quickly providing housing without bureaucratic conditions for obtaining one already exists in America and seems to be one of the best ways out of the homelessness crisis. Having received a permanent shelter with at least minimal living conditions, a homeless person can focus on solving other problems in his life, such as example, finding a job and then renting a home. Also, within the framework of the re-housing program, the homeless should be provided with assistance in finding and purchasing a new home, since this gratuitous support is required by more and more people in trouble.
as little as 3 hours
The main difference between the Rapid Re-Housing program and other housing strategies is the interaction with specialists dealing with the individual cases of each bottomless person participating in the program. Within the framework of individual cases, the possibility of providing access to other support systems is being considered – providing education and health care in particular (Evans et al. 3). The system is aimed at transforming a person’s life in a short time and is fixed not only on the provision of housing. It also concentrates on the transformation of a person into an effective social cell capable of further self-realization in society, finding its place in it. More marginalized members of society such as survivors of domestic violence or drug addicts, also present specific case studies for professionals working in the program. Thus, the re-house program seems to be strategically correct due to the volume of its work and its structural alignment. The methodological program for working with the homeless allows to help them in overcoming those personal and social problems that caused life on the street or, on the contrary, were acquired as a result of the lost social status.
Support at the Federal Level
At the federal level, homeless assistance consists of the creation of housing programs, as well as grants to encourage the operation of assistance programs at the local level. However, in this way, it seems that the state is exclusively engaged in the provision of subsidies for initiative groups that individually deal with private problems in the state or city. The very same problem of the number of homeless people in America is presented as having the scale of the whole country and, therefore, could be considered at the federal level from the point of view of imperfections of the established economic order. For example, families who find themselves on the streets because of privacy provisions in the laws of specific states, when owners use legal rights to the detriment of low-income segments of the population.
It is required to emphasize the need to eliminate loopholes in the laws in such a way that a one-time non-payment or alleged non-compliance with contractual conditions at the legal level could not serve as a reason for the eviction of a person. It seems that such adjustments to the law should take place at the federal level and affect every state. Each case of eviction should be controlled by a specially created state expert program, which considers individual cases from the point of view of abuse of landowner’s rights. Special attention should be paid to poor families – the eviction of an entire family from the house should be prohibited if it is impossible to provide it with a guarantee of a new home. Only in this case, it will be impossible to evict a person from home without real reason, which will significantly underestimate the level of homelessness throughout the country and in individual states.
It also seems necessary to mention the provision of assistance to the most vulnerable members of society who find themselves in conditions of homelessness. Those who are not able to provide for themselves, for example, children, the elderly or the disabled, should receive permanent housing that does not impose additional temporary living conditions. The provision of living conditions of this type should also affect chronically homeless people, whose life order has changed so much that social adaptation is not fully possible. This method is financially effective as it improves the health and well-being of the homeless, thus lowering the economic costs of prisons and hospitals.
The problem of the homeless population in America seems not only large-scale and alarming but also difficult to define due to the vagueness of this concept and the inability to maintain up-to-date dynamic statistics. Overcoming it requires constant and well-coordinated work of charity organizations and initiative groups. The Rapid Re-House program is an example of methodically verified assistance to the homeless, in which they are also invited to undergo a program for social adaptation and subsequent employment. The state should not only finance such projects but also independently participate in solving this global problem. At the legislative level, it is possible to influence the problem of homelessness by eliminating the possibility of evicting people without an obvious legal reason. Thus, despite the ramifications and complexity of the homeless problem, there is an opportunity to contribute to its solution at the macro and micro levels.
Evans, Joshua, and Tom Baker. “Breaking through the epistemic impasse: Ending homelessness with the invention of ‘functional zero’ in the Anglo-American world.” Futures, vol. 129, 2021, pp. 1-8.
Evans, William N., et al. Reducing and preventing homelessness: A review of the evidence and charting a research agenda. National Bureau of Economic Research. Web.
Rollinson, Paul A., and John T. Pardeck. Homelessness in Rural America: Policy and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2019.
Goldstone, Brian. “The new American Homeless.” The New Republic, Web.
Schweid, Richard. Invisible Nation: Homeless Families in America. University of California Press, 2016.