The paper at hand is going to investigate a vulnerable population of Miami, Florida. The population of the city is diverse and mainly represented by urban, middle-aged European Americans. However, there are individuals with various demographic characteristics, including immigrants of different races. The community is rather healthy, which is supported by the fact that the majority of citizens do not demonstrate any visible symptoms of serious illnesses. The city provides a lot of resources to meet the health care needs of its inhabitants. However, the population still seems to suffer from homelessness. Homeless individuals are supported by governmental agencies and volunteers providing them with medicine, food, and shelters. That is the reason they are mostly satisfied with their condition and do not want any changes. Thus, the purpose of the present study is to assess the status of this vulnerable population to identify problems that have to be addressed.
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Vulnerable Population Overview
The vulnerable group currently consists of more than 4700 individuals who do not have any permanent housing. Before the late 1990s, there was a common practice of arresting homeless people eating or sleeping on park benches, which made them rather unwilling to show up in public places. The situation has changed dramatically since 1998 when it was prohibited to officers to make arrests unless the offense is serious indeed. Instead, they were instructed to take these people to homeless shelters. This significantly increased the number of those who spend nights in the streets (Provenzo et al., 2014). My observations of the population prove that very few of them are willing to change their social status being satisfied with their condition.
There are a lot of factors that have led to this situation. Among them, economic recessions are affecting the lower class, immigration, and unemployment. Homeless individuals are also more subject to diseases since they are rarely vaccinated. However, the wrong policy is also accountable. The Homeless Trust has provided homeless people with the opportunity to check into a shelter anytime. As a result, it has been made easier for them to remain in the streets.
Strengths, Risk Factors, and Barriers
The major strength that affects the health of the described group is the support that it receives from the authorities and volunteers. Besides the Homeless Trust, other agencies cooperate with independent individuals who search the streets to find out how many people live there and try to accommodate them in shelters. These people help organizations map the location of the homeless population and determine how resources must be reallocated to the most affected segments. Moreover, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has granted more than $30 million to the city for it to develop new accommodation and provide all necessary services (Provenzo et al., 2014).
However, there are also a lot of risks posed by homelessness. The most widespread ones include (Bartelt, Eyrich-Garg, & Lockwood, 2017):
- substance abuse, which is typical of homeless people;
- poor mental health due to the previous factor;
- bronchitis and pneumonia (despite the warm climate, sleeping in the streets without being vaccinated often leads to these illnesses);
- wound and skin infection that appears as a result of poor hygiene;
- emotional and behavioral problems, most frequently appearing in teenagers.
Even though social agencies and volunteers provide the homeless with medications and food, the absence of health insurance (which is common among the group members), is the key barrier to health care that they have to encounter. It becomes a substantial problem when they need prescription medications, dental care, eyeglasses, psychological care, or surgery.
As it has already been mentioned, numerous social agencies address the problem of homelessness in Miami, providing the population with all necessary products and services, including food, clothing, housing, daycare, transportation services, referral, training, and employment. There are even shelters that are ready to offer rehabilitation therapies for those who suffer from alcohol or drug addictions (Provenzo et al., 2014). Teenagers (especially those who fell victim to home violence or sexual abuse) are rendered psychological support.
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These resources are quite adequate, especially if compare to Miami with other American cities. However, there is an evident lack of educational programs for the homeless that would guide them back to normal life. That is why many of them do not see the ways to find jobs and normal housing or are unwilling to try.
Community Health Problem Diagnosis
One of the priority community health problems in Miami is substance-abuse among the homeless youth, which can be significantly decreased by nurse-led interventions. Homeless teenagers tend to consume alcohol and drugs thrice as often as non-homeless ones, which leads to high rates of juvenile delinquency in this group. In the majority of cases, they consume drugs and alcohol to deal with stress and frustration or to increase their prestige among other teens. Thus, nurses must provide due education and psychological support to the homeless youth through interactive group sessions.
The related objective is: “Increase the proportion of adolescents who have an adult in their lives with whom they can talk about serious problems” (“Healthy people 2020,” 2017).
Even though Miami is rather a healthy community, the problem of homelessness remains unresolved. The government alongside numerous agencies and volunteers provides a lot of resources to meet the health care needs of the homeless, which makes them satisfied with their condition. Their health problems include substance abuse, poor mental health, bronchitis and pneumonia, wound and skin infection, and emotional and behavioral problems.
Bartelt, D., Eyrich-Garg, K. M., & Lockwood, B. (2017). The relationships between community context and entry into a homeless shelter system. Journal of Urban Affairs, 3(4), 1-16.
Healthy people 2020: Adolescent health. (2017). Web.
Provenzo Jr, E. F., Ameen, E., Bengochea, A., Doorn, K., Pontier, R. W., & Sembiante, S. F. (2014). Streetways: Chronicling the homeless in Miami. Charlotte, NC: IAP.