Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
The issue of homelessness in the United States is something that needs to be addressed before it becomes so great it is incomprehensible. Three million people are homeless in the United States Today. Of that number, one million are children, and the rate is rising quickly. Whether the reason is abuse, job loss, natural disaster, or increased home loan rates, homelessness is something that can impact anybody. While it does have a sociological hierarchy it typically adheres to, affecting the lower-class more often, in special circumstances anybody can experience it. Those experiencing it often turn to crime and unsavory means to survive, detracting from the economy in a variety of ways. The issue must be addressed before this is allowed to continue, and society devolves entirely.
Causes and Effects of Homeless Population
Homelessness is an issue in the United States that cannot be ignored. While many like to believe it is only a few individuals in their city, standing on a street corner, it is actually affecting millions. There are many causes to homelessness, though it can often be traced back to earlier trauma that leads to crippling social deficits like addiction. Unfortunately, homelessness is a cycle that does not die like a singular disease with the one individual. It can influence the person’s family, spreading to their children in the typical sociological fashion. Facing mistreatment, neglect, poverty, and poor education, children are often prone to falling into the homeless abyss themselves; it will only make the problem more noticeable if something is not done soon to remedy the situation.
According to the book, “Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness,´ for decades homelessness was considered to problem of minorities and the lower class . Largely ignored by the majority of society, it was not until the Great Depression that we were forced to acknowledge there was a homeless issue in the country. At this time, the only reason society acknowledged the deficit of nearly forty-three percent of the people in the country had been suddenly dislodged from their homes or threatened to be removed from them . People were destitute and homelessness was no longer separate from many by the normal marginalizations of culture; it was knocking on the doorstep of every member of society. While The Great Depression allowed the issue to gain more consideration, once the economy in the country began to pick back up, and people reclaimed shelter, it was widely observed those who could not reclaim shelter were, once more, minorities or unworthy of finding steady work. Today, the same stigma remains with the exception that too many veterans returned from war have no work and no place to live.
While many rely on easy affirmations to explain the reason for one’s homelessness, there are legitimate sociological causes to the issue explained by research. For example, as stated in, “Homelessness: A Perspective,” of the estimated three million Americans left homeless in 2014, one-third of those were children. An estimated 200,000 of those children, ranging from the ages of eleven to seventeen had run away from home due to neglect, and abuse of the sexual, emotional, and physical variety . Many of the remaining 800,000 were left homeless because their families had become displaced; they were displaced by extension. Therefore, we must ask why so many adults in the United States are being left as vagrants. Dear (2014) reported more than 50% of cities in the United States with a high rate of displaced adults cited drug and alcohol addiction as one of the topmost reason for said rate of homelessness.
The unfortunate stereotype, then, is sometimes true. However, it is often misunderstood. Many of these individuals, as a part of further sociological studies, were found to have developed addiction due to distress occurring previously in their lives. Robertson (2013) observed many had experienced the loss of a parent or loved one they had never recovered from, of which they had never been to cope with. Others had lost a child. Some had lost a job and been unable to find another. Without being able to satisfy the family’s financial needs, they began to abuse substances as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, and even anger as many reportedly realized they were losing control of their lives. As you can see, in many instances one of the primary causes of destitution does not begin with substance abuse, but begins with a previous trauma that eventually leads to substance abuse. Nevertheless, addiction carries a stigma, making finding a job impossible. Moreover, inability to keep a job leads to homelessness, and all of these factors have been proven to have a ripple effect on the people around the primary individual, which, in turn, affects society.
Despite the fact, this pigeonhole and the traumas preceding it are responsible for much of the destitution in the United States, it is not the only reason. Natural disasters, such as the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, responsible for displacing many of the occupants of New Orleans can be the cause of homelessness. Though some of the victims of that particular disaster had family in various areas of the country to live with, many were permanently displaced and, therefore, homeless. Property value and banking loans are another cause of homelessness. Previous trauma and substance abuse sometimes have nothing to do with a person’s loss of home. If property value plummets, or a clause in a homeowner’s loan contract states the rate will raise after a certain amount of years and the homeowner cannot afford it, they will likely be unable to continue payments and lose their home.
Eventually, the children in impoverished and homeless situations grow up and attempt to create lives of their own. They may become well adjusted members of society who manage to maintain employment and a home; much of this relies on the education they are able to procure throughout their life . The individuals who do not gain an education or learn a skill will continue the cycle of poverty, often resuming acts of crime or what is popularly known as “pan-handling” when in need of money, while using drugs or alcohol, depending on if they have an addiction . We see marked trends that show often minorities, women, and children are more effected by poverty and related issues. Men, though less trusted in many circumstances, can find work easier than a woman with a child. Childcare is expensive, and if the child is acting out or commiting crimes it can be difficult for a single mother to concentrate on finding a job . Men, who have been more socialized to work in society whether they have a family or not sometimes find it easier to look for work despite the issues with their children.
Project planning services would be needed to remedy the situation. For example, a job placement program that would allow homeless individuals a chance at gainful employment would be lucrative. Stakeholders would include the businesses gaining eager employees, as well as the incarceration system that could spend its money servicing criminal who had committed serious offenses, rather than small offenses at the hands of the sociological ladder. The placement system could take place in many ways, though I propose we outsource many homeless individuals to jobs nobody else wants to do. Temporary housing could be given to these individuals while they perform tasks like cleaning up after a natural disaster, or provided they have the proper skills, acting in the place of an employee during a strike. The individual is paid for their services and is provided housing. They also have the chance to learn a skill, depending on the job placement. Moreover, any children they have begin receiving steady income and have a chance at a stable life. Proper mental health services should be offered in situations where previous trauma has existed. AA, long proven to not work in most circumstances, is not reliable. Proper psychiatric evaluations that will allow the individual an assessment and diagnosis would be invaluable. Roles of those involved in the project would be to improve procure employment for individuals involved in the program; responsibilities would include improving quality of life for the individual and their families. The program would be an intervention on behalf of the individual, their family, and society. The cost for the project would be minimal, with the amount of travel, food, and lodging for the individuals being the primary fee.
In sum, homelessness is not something we can ignore, but if trends continue as they are, society will be forced to reconcile what is going on along the margins of our communities. Many things cause this circumstance. Trauma can lead to substance abuse, which makes employment difficult, leading to subsequent unemployment. However, natural disasters and home loan interest rates are part of the reason part of the country has been displaced without being able to regain residency. The impact of homelessness is also diverse, as it affects the individual’s family, which in turn makes the homeless issue expand throughout society over time. While it is convenient for us to overlook the problem, or pretend it is not affecting enough people for it to be addressed, it is, and it must be remedied in order to stop the issues at its root in order to stop it from touching any more lives.
Cronley, C., Jeong, S., Davis, J. B., & Madden, E. (2015). Effects of Homelessness and Child Maltreatment on the Likelihood of Engaging in Property and Violent Crime During Adulthood. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 195-203.
Dear, M. J. (2014). Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness. Princeton: Princeton University Publishing.
Robertson, M. J. (2013). Homelessness: A National Perspective. Chicago: Springer Business and Science Media.