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Homelessness in the United States of America


Over the past 10-15 years, homelessness in the United States has increased greatly. To avoid social consequences of this, the US government forced a 2-3-fold increase in the number of beds intended for the homeless. For example, in the city of Boston, according to official figures – 258%. Homelessness is growing faster this humiliating and miserable bourgeois state charity. In the absence of adequate number of places in shelters, a large number of homeless Americans forced to spend the night on the street, under bridges and so on.

The cause of homelessness in the United States is not the lack of housing, but its high cost. According to official data, in 1986 in Atlanta, 11-15% of the homeless were employed, and in 1997 this figure had risen to 30%. In the city of Jeffersonville in 1989 3% of the homeless were employed, and by 1997 – 50%. In the state of Virginia in 1994, 48% of the homeless had casual earnings, and 35% of full-time employment rate.

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In the US, child homelessness is increasing rapidly. According to CNN television in the country, there are about 2 million homeless children, and this figure is growing. For example, in the state of Minnesota street children has grown from 1985 to 1997 at 733%, and Virginia – by 258%. In New York, of the 140,000 registered homeless nearly half are children.

President Clinton immediately after his election to the post publicly acknowledged the presence in the country of mass homelessness among low-income segments of the population and slapped a lot of good promises to eliminate this social evil. However, despite the solemn vows Clinton reduction of subsidies and grants to needy citizens continued.

Problem statement

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and the US poverty between 2008 and 2013 across the country, there were 100 tented communities, and now this number continues to grow.

According to reports, the homeless parking occur mainly in urban and suburban areas where housing is becoming less affordable. Tents appear along the roads, under bridges, in forests across the country, from Alaska to California from Hawaii to Connecticut. At the same time out of a hundred makeshift camps surveyed, only eight were officially registered. Often, the city or county is not doing anything to get rid of them – in shelters all the seats are occupied, people simply have nowhere to go. According to experts, without a decision on the construction of affordable housing the United States will not solve this problem in another way.

According to experts, the number of people losing their homes, is growing rapidly despite advocated idea that the housing crisis is over. In particular, the Annual Report to Congress on the issue of homelessness says 600 thousands homeless in the United States as of January 1, 2013, but funded by the Ministry of Education National Center for Education homeless argues that some homeless children across the United States in 2013, there were 1.2 million people .

In 1964, a group of researchers has found only one homeless person in all four major parks in New York. Today, apart from the streets in New York City shelters each night sleep 53 thousand homeless. Not only New York, but also about all around the country, one can say that homelessness is at a record high, even despite the massive increase in social programs since the sixties, researchers summarize.

Meanwhile, the municipal government in the United States often have a policy of criminalization of homelessness by prohibiting individuals to feed people left homeless, and fining for helping the homeless.

As said UN experts related to the homeless in America “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Walter Calin, a member of the UN Committee on Human Rights, there are extensive reports showing that the criminalization of homelessness is, in fact, their discrimination.

The main reasons are:

  • Poverty, growth of house prices;
  • Reforms in the health system.
  • Complex housing legislation, makes it difficult to build affordable housing;
  • About half of the children living in foster families and institutions of state custody, become homeless after they turn 18 years of age and terminated their contents;
  • Natural disasters, deprive people of housing.

Homelessness leads to stress, mental disorders and substance abuse, particularly alcohol, although this may be a consequence of homelessness. The incidence of tuberculosis among the homeless is at least 25 times higher than among the general population. Homeless people are 10 times more at risk of such diseases as AIDS (compared to the urban population on average). The most severe are the consequences of homelessness for children. This is a problem for the developed countries. For example, in the US, about 750,000 primary school children are now homeless, and this number is growing faster than any other segment of the homeless. About half of these children are in need of psychiatric care, but they get it not always. Among the homeless children aged 3-5 found various violations of the behavior and mental problems, including sleep disorders, attention, language, motor coordination, aggressiveness, shyness, dependency, serious school problems. Children older than 5 years, often acting out their characteristic pathological anxiety. Considerable danger for the future of children is their belief that they are hopelessly “sucked” poverty. Thus, homelessness and poverty may become self-fulfilling prophecies, passing from generation to generation. Homeless children are more likely to be abused in situations where the frustration caused by homelessness, exceeds the level of parental control. In addition, according to statistics the US each year are homeless about 1.5 million children aged 10 to 17 years. This homeless, runaways, abandoned children and orphans, runaways from orphanages and homes, teenagers from disadvantaged families in which they had been physically and sexually abused. About 60,000 of these adolescents infected with HIV. Many homeless teens prone to depression and suicide risk. Results of homelessness in adults are primarily social exclusion, loss of trust in other people, isolation and learned helplessness – homeless conviction that they are unable to control our lives to meet their basic needs. Among the homeless, suffering from excessive victimization are victims of abuse of women, some of whom reported that they were abused as children. Such women in Sid its aggressiveness may themselves be violent toward their children without having them to them to do so provoked. Solving the problem of homelessness American psychologists see in overcoming poverty.

Problem solutions

It is necessary to start working with priority. Immediate needs of the homeless are food, medication, clothing and hygiene. Organization of street feeding requires some money and time resources and requires almost no skills of social work. Field kitchens, buses with food, tables in the open air, buckwheat in disposable plates. Useful Things, warm clothing or drugs may be distributed together with food.

Noteworthy results of a small study “Serving Up Sermons: Clients’ Reactions to Religious Elements at Congregation-Run Feeding Establishments” by Sager Rebecca and Laura Stevens. In the study, the authors were working as volunteers in eight organizations of various American congregations, as well as in-depth interviews conducted with 30 homeless, beneficiaries of these organizations. The results indicate that two-thirds of homeless people strongly opposed mandatory sermons and prayers at feeding regardless of the presence or lack of faith – and that in both cases the poll results are the same (i. e., the reason is not that homeless people alien religious and spiritual life). Researchers distinguish two main explanations (which, however, coincide with the causes of inefficient operation of similar government organizations): first, the position of the homeless, religious or not, are not taken into account. The second is the logic of preaching often constructed so that the homeless are to blame for their homelessness (one of the main reasons most of these sermons “Pray all you will have when I was bad, I prayed, and I got some money,” and therefore, a homeless wine that he is not praying). The most popular of them all, however, was the organization «Food Truck», each of the interviewees, who visited her, gave her the highest rating. There did not refuse from religious elements, but instead of compulsory prayer sermon carried out at the request – the people handing out food, asking “Do you want to pray with us?” “We are not ashamed to have their food”, “They do not belittle us for what we are homeless” – were klientov3 reviews. Thus, the researchers conclude, mandatory sermon carried out with the best intentions, can only deepen the gap between help and the homeless. However, this does not mean that it is necessary to abandon his mission and beliefs as they really appreciated, it is necessary to analyze the methods used.

On the other side, it is wise to use the practice, implemented in Utah. We decided pragmatic approach to solving this problem, – said employee of Gordon Walker – and calculate what it costs us the content of the homeless on the street. Yes, yes, it is the content, as emergency room visits, detention by the police for being in the wrong place, even detention on remand – all this costs money. And it turned out that the attempt of socialization of the homeless, the expectation that they will change their life, it is very costly to society – about 35-40 thousand dollars a year. A provision of public housing homeless cost the state 12 000 per year per person. Therefore, we are much cheaper in the first place to ensure its housing, and after that it’s up to him. If he wants to change his life – he’ll do it. “

This truly American approach really dramatically changed the situation in the state. Now the number of homeless people has decreased by 73%. Most of those who participated in the program at the very beginning, has left the public housing and start a new life.

“This is quite natural – says what happens in Utah, the head of the national organization National Alliance to End Homelessness Serge Brin – because for most people on the street, lack of self-angle – the main problem hindering somehow build or modify their lives. And the appearance of their own homes gives a positive impetus to such efforts.”

The approach adopted in Utah, was supported by a dozen of the states in the south and center of the country. Even federal agencies have taken it on board, calling the program “Second Chance”. The program operates within the Department of Veterans Affairs, and tries to provide housing for ex-servicemen, for whatever reasons, are left without a roof over their head. And there are, unfortunately, tens of thousands of people. However, according to the head of the program by Leslie Tsvilleger, if both should get down to business, then this problem can be solved. For three years, the number of homeless veterans has decreased by 24%. And approximately 30% were arranged in shelters.

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