A stroll through the city at night and the picture is traumatizing, it was one of those days I had delayed my travels due to a puncture I encountered on the road. I did not have adequate cash to book myself lodging and therefore had to travel home late. What I saw on the streets that night changed my perspective and I thought to myself, I might not have had cash to book myself lodging but at least I had a home I could retire to after a tiresome day. I saw a number of people wrapped up in rags and sacks which appeared to be their only blanket and roof. Dirty verandas and footpaths were the only beds and bedrooms that such homeless people had. I thought of the big room I had for myself, yet there was someone who could not afford a blanket for a covering.
Many times, we see these homeless people on the streets during the day begging for money. At times, we throw few coins to them yet many times we just pass by them. We even complain of how they have become a nuisance on our streets as they cause unnecessary congestion (Kendall, 2013). What we fail to realise is that the streets is the only place they can find refuge, it is their office as well as their home. At times, the government comes up with plans to rehabilitate them and suddenly the streets are clean. However, such conveniences do not last long as a few weeks after, we find the streets littered with such beggars again. Whether the rehabilitated ones were not given proper attention and had to go back, or a new breed of homeless people come to the streets again, we may never understand. The fact however is that the homeless will always be part of our societies and hence we need proper structures to rehabilitate them.
There are various social institutions that are playing a big role to ensure that the number of homeless individuals are contained in the city. This is done through rescue centres and other rehabilitation institutions. However, most of such institutions do not provide permanent solutions to the homeless but rather temporal ones. For instance, there are various children homes that rehabilitate children who have been found loitering on the streets, orphaned or neglected by their caregivers. The institutions will always do their best to ensure the children are well fed, clothed, accommodated and even educated. However, such support stops once the children attain the age of eighteen and they are released to start their own life. At eighteen, a child may not be adequately equipped to earn a living, leave a lone have a home (Kendall, 2013). However, since the role of the institution is to only rehabilitate children, they are left with no alternative but to release the adults to make room for other new cases they receive.
It is such children that have been deemed to be adults considering their age who fill up the streets, engage in irresponsible sexual activities and bring up another desperate generation. If there were structures to ensure that once the children are released from children homes, they are given a place where they can start from. There should be other institutions where they are given other basic skills that will equip them to earn a living as well as teach them responsible living. Giving a childless home hope until when they are eighteen, only to release them to a harsh environment will not solve the issue of homelessness. In as much as such institutions need to be appreciated for their input, they also need to realise that releasing such children without any proper plan will worsen the issue by making them keep rehabilitating other homeless children.
Functionalist theory will view homelessness as a societal issue that is neglected or ignored at its infant stage. For instance, the rate and number of homeless individuals was lesser than it is few years ago. There could just have been one homeless individual in town that was ignored because he or she was harmless. However, as years rolled by, such a homeless person reproduced other homeless individuals (Kendall, 2013). Street families grew into bigger families that right now we have a whole community of the homeless. If such an issue would have been contained at its infant stage, then it would not be a big issue. The issue of the homeless could be big now but unless it is contained in its current state, it grows up to be even bigger.
It is never too late to bring about the most needed change; there is always something that can be done if measures are taken now. Even though people ignore it thinking that it does not affect them, the magnitude will be felt when such families grow to alarming rates that they threaten the security of the area. Homelessness is not just an issue of the government and social institution, it is everybody’s concern and everyone has a role to play. Each person can bring out the needed change even by contributing to charitable organisations or sponsoring a homeless child for education.
Kendall, D. (2013). Sociology in Our Times. Columbia College Edition (or 9th). Cengage Custom Publishing: Belmont, CA. ISBN: 978-1-111- 83157-8