Homelessness is an issue in any major city around the world. This critical thinking sample essay explores the causes and potential solutions for this global problem.
Enter any city in the world and there will be a homeless population. Wherever you are, there are large numbers of people, there are those who struggle to find jobs and afford housing. Economic and sociological factors play into numbers, and while the causes are generally understood, long-lasting solutions to homelessness have yet to be implemented.
There are multiple reasons the problem is not easily solved. While causes such as economic depression, lack of jobs, and lack of affordable housing can be identified, addressing them is a complicated matter. All of these issues overlap and affect over 500,000 individuals who are permanently homeless (Johnson 2015) and 3.5 million who are homeless at some point in the year throughout the entire United States (Roll 2006). These numbers are also likely low due to difficulty accounting for the homeless who don’t attend shelters (Gee 2017). Addressing homelessness when it affects such a massive, difficult-to-track population is a monumental task.
The sociological factors that contribute to homelessness must be treated before we see a worldwide decrease in these numbers. General poverty increases the likelihood of homelessness due to the fact that emergency situations are difficult to handle without the presence of a safety net. Sudden problems such as illness and loss of a job might make rent payment impossible. Lack of affordable health care means illnesses go untreated, preventing work that subsequently prevents housing payments. Included in this is mental health treatment, which hinders stable employment. Veterans of the armed forces experience this problem in even higher numbers from post-traumatic stress disorders and difficulties transitioning to a civilian life (Miles 2010).
Although affordable apartments that exist within city limits, transportation issues and jobs located far from affordable housing often mean they are not an accessible option for the poor. Housing assistance exists for those who live in poverty, but demand some assistance (National Coalition for the Homeless 2009). This trend exists with all other sociological factors mentioned – demand for assistance that’s not met. In terms of affordable housing, federal funds have remained the same despite the rise in housing prices (Semuels 2016). This leaves people uncovered.
Financial assistance that increases in other areas of need will help as well. Increased budgets at Veteran’s Affairs allow funds for the homeless program as well as preventive services like education, health care, and careers. In Utah, the group Pathways to Housing offered housing to the homeless without any restrictions or rules, no judgments regarding substance abuse and mental health problems; treatment services were also provided. Five years passed and 88 percent remained housed in the same apartment (Carrier 2015). Emergency-service on behalf of the city decreased.
Homelessness does not generate from an individual’s aversion to working, but from sociological factors that work against them. Accounting for and fixing these flaws in our social structure can help reduce problems such as homelessness. There are programs that fill in these gaps and have been proven to work, giving hope for a proper solution to the issue of homelessness.
- Johnson, Eric M. (2015 November 19). More than 500,000 people homeless in the United States: report. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-homelessness-idUSKCN0T908720151120
- Gee, Alastair. (2017 February 16). How America counts its homeless – and why so many are overlooked. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/16/homeless-count-population-america-shelters-people
- Miles, Donna. (2010 April 7). Veterans Affairs officials tackle root causes of homelessness. U.S. Air Force. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/117062/veterans-affairs-officials-tackle-root-causes-of-homelessness/
- Roll, Gerry. (2006 May 22). Understanding poverty and homelessness in America. The Christian Science Monitor. https://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0522/p09s01-coop.html
- National Coalition for the Homeless. 2009. Homelessness Is Caused by Poverty and a Lack of Affordable Housing. Poverty and Homelessness.
- Semuels, Alana. 2016 April 25. How Can the U.S. End Homelessness? The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/end-homelessness-us/479115/
- Carrier, Scott. 2015 March. Room for Improvement. Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/housing-first-solution-to-homelessness-utah/