The State Of Homelessness In The USA

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Homelessness Defined

Simply defined, homelessness is the state of having no home or permanent place of residence.  But it is a state far more complicated than this given definition.  In America, many organizations—both the government agencies in charge of providing programs for homeless individuals and the privately-managed organizations whose mission is to help in the elimination of the state of homelessness in the country—have defined homelessness in different ways.

In the United Nations Demographic Yearbook review by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division, Demographic and Social Statistic Branch, it was discussed that the correct definition of a homeless household should be, in accordance with the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses which states that “homeless households are those households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in any other space, on a more or less random basis.”

Per the Health Resources and Services Administration , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “A homeless individual is an individual who lacks housing (without regard to whether the individual is a member of a family), including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility (e.g., shelters) that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing.” A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation. [Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C., 254b)]

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  uses ‘homeless’ to describe a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.  HUD recognizes four categories under which individuals and families might qualify as homeless.  It is upon these that the services are provided to the homeless individual or families.

  • Category 1 – Literally Homeless
  • Category 2 – Imminent Risk of Homeless
  • Category 3 – Homeless Under Other Federal Statutes
  • Category 4 – Fleeing/Attempting to Flee Domestic Violence

All these definitions point to a common thing—that is the lack of permanent place to stay.

Homelessness Statistics

Homelessness exists around the world.  Even the most powerful and richest countries in the world have people who experience this social problem.  In the United States, the Point-In-Time Count or simply termed ‘homeless count’ (http://homelesshub.ca/solutions/monitoring-progress/point-time-counts) that was carried out in January 2016 reveals that there were 549,928 people suffering from homelessness in one single night; 68% were sheltered and 32% unsheltered.  Out of this number, 355,212 people are experiencing homelessness as individuals, accounting for 65% of the homeless population while the 194,716 people are in families with children experiencing homelessness, representing 35% of the homeless population. (https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2016-AHAR-Part-1.pdf)

Whether this information is accurate or not—is not the main issue.  It is enough to point out that homelessness is one of America’s existing social crises that its government and its people have to address.  There is a great opportunity for all able-bodied Americans to extend their hand and help in the advocacy to eliminate homelessness in America.

Causes of Homelessness

Having no net worth, not being employed, and having low-paying jobs have always been included in the factors that lead to the state of homelessness.  Families remain homeless because in the first place, they cannot afford to pay for housing units.  While those who have jobs and were able to acquire a house but still live through negative cash flow often end up in debts and in the end, have their properties foreclosed by credit companies.

Family members who learn to gamble to increase their low income often come to worse situations that they tend to give up their belongings including their homes.

Abusing drugs also adds up to these causes, and so does having broken families. Most children who grew up without their parents’ help and have had difficult childhoods tend to join the pack of young cocaine users.  Growing up from this kind of situation, these children make it through the streets and abandon their homes.

These are just few of the many reasons why there are homeless people in the country.  The list could go on and on.  It’s not like these people chose to live this way.  As they say, at some point in a man’s life, shit happens.

How to Help

Out of pure love and the desire to help others and the country, some private non-profit organizations have offered their resources and services to help a number of homeless people in the country.  They welcome the homeless men, women and children into their shelters through their own homeless help programs.  With the growing number of homeless people in America, more of these kinds of organizations and even well-off individuals who are willing to lend a hand are still needed for the country to get by with the situation.

If you feel that you are one of these passionate individuals, you can reach out to these organizations and partner with them to keep channeling the help and assistance that these homeless people need.

Learn more about helping the homeless here.

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