According to official government data of 2014, 578,424 people experienced homelessness in the USA every night. These people sleep outside on the road pavements, in front of buildings, and some in homeless shelters. The state of homelessness renders the people vulnerable to diseases due to the harsh climatic condition of the night, shortage of food, and stress. Fundamentally, homelessness result from traumatic events such as losing a loved one, job, domestic violence, family disputes, and divorces among other issues.
These problems make the homeless people stressed and depressed to the point of losing focus in their lives. At the same time, untreated mental conditions, physical disability and post-traumatic stress disorder contribute significantly to the homelessness (“Top causes of homelessness in America,” 2016). Other causes include poverty and the high cost of houses. The homeless population's age ranges from teenagers to people over sixty years. The above propositions made me choose a homeless shelter because the role it plays in the region is paramount.
The homeless shelter offers dedicated services to anyone who is homeless. In most cases, people within the area provide donations in form money, food or services to the homeless shelter. It follows that there is a steady supply of basic needs to the homeless population. Identification of the homeless person is different in various states. However, the basic fundamental requirement is to prove that one is an official resident of the country using personal identity card (ID) for adults. The shelter uses the ID to vet the people with criminal activities such as sexual predators (Lincoln, 2014). Although it does not mean that these individuals do not need help, it is paramount that the social workers or shelter heads are aware of their presence to take precautions.
The legal definition of a homeless person with no fixed, regular, and enough nighttime residence. That includes children sharing houses as a result of economic hardship especially in motels, camps, for lack of an alternative home. Others are children in primary nighttime residence not designed for regular accommodation for people; youths and children living in public places, car parks, etc., and migration children whose movement is due to the above premises (National Center for homeless education, 2014).
According to the above definition, local education agencies appoints a local liaison to coordinate with school and other institution to identify homeless children. In this case, the liaison officer disseminates information on the rights of the homeless youth and children and how to get help from the homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The liaison personnel should use ingenuity in identifying the homeless youths and children because some hide their state for fear of ridicule while the homeless parent fear to lose their children to state departments.
Social workers identify adult homeless people. However in most cases, adults can check themselves in the homeless shelter for verification. Regular volunteers also help the people in the streets by providing information on how they can get help. Others offer support regarding food and in the process would identify the homeless and refer them to the homeless shelter.
Funding comes from various stakeholders. For instance, there are grants for the provision of services such as family stability, food pantries, counseling, and emergency services. The grant comes from local governments and, other interested parties such as companies participating in corporate social responsibility. The Grant watch lists over two hundred and thirty-one grants in various states towards homeless, and the shelter I visited was among the beneficiaries of the grants on many occasions, and it hopes to keep enjoying the support.
Residents also offer donations for the homeless. As mentioned earlier, the donations may be in the form of basic needs such as food and medication and time for service. In this case, volunteers go to the homeless shelter in the morning to prepare food for the people. Other volunteers join the shelter in the afternoon and evening. Due to the combined efforts, the homeless shelter would have enough supply of goods and services.
Apart from the preparation of food, professional volunteers such as nurses and counselors may offer their services for free. The move helps to save the available funds for other vital services. In this respect, therefore, funding for the shelter moves beyond monetary assistance to service provision.
Without the homeless shelters, the affected people would suffer significantly. For instance, during winter, the shelter serves as safer places to protect the people from the cold nights. Long hours of exposure to extreme coldness causes death and; therefore, these shelters help avert such deaths. As of 2012, over seven hundred people died annually due to hypothermia.
Also, those people who face temporary problem such that they cannot afford rent due to unpredictable events such as loss of job use the shelters as a transition. The shelter offers basic need to the people and helps them to regain stability (“Homeless shelters,” 2016). Without the services of the shelter, such people may suffer perpetually because of the lack of social support from the homeless shelter.
Moreover, getting the people of the streets promotes the decency of the towns and cities. Many homeless people on the street would make it have a wrong picture to the local as well as visitors. Therefore, without the homeless shelter, the town would be an eyesore at night.
The shelter is overwhelmed by the number of homeless people it caters. If the shelter received more funds than it receives currently, it would expand the physical premises to accommodate more people per night. For example, the shelter can open a new wing on its premises or rent another building in the adjacent area. Also, it would expand the social support such that it can help more people regain financial stability. More volunteers can ease service provision in the shelter.
Several challenges face the refuge center. First, congestion in the shelter is a common occurrence. The number of the homeless people is still high in the region. Therefore, the shelter offers services that exceed its carrying capacity. As a result, the quality of the services may not meet the best practice threshold. The congestion creates security issues due to difficulties of controlling the people (Fuller, 2011)
Secondly, the funds are not sufficient to offer the services to the population. In most case, the shelters have to operate on minimum budgets. The managers have to forego some activities to provide only the most essential services. As such, the rate at which the shelter helps people regain economic stability is slow. In some cases, some people end up leaving the shelter without assistance due to insufficient funds.
The above propositions emphasize the role played by the homeless shelters. It reduces crimes; offer transitions for struggling people, prevent deaths, and also assist in making the cities decent. However, the shelter faces challenges such as congestion, security, and funding. If more funds were available, the shelter would offer better services and expand physical facilities to accommodate more people.
Fuller C. (2011). Homeless Shelter Systems and What They Don't Tell You. The Huffington post December 27, 2011. Retrieved on February 4, 2016 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-fuller/homeless-shelter-parents_b_1035952.html
Homeless shelters. (2016). Retrieved on February 4, 2016 from http://www.homelesssheltersusa.org/
Lincoln M. (2014). Without ID, many homeless are unable to get help or into shelters. Hawaii News Now July 19, 2014. Retrieved on February 4, 2016 from http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/26058747/without-id-many-homeless-are-unable- to-get-help-or-into-shelters
National center for homeless education. (2014). Identifying Children and Youth in Homeless Situations. Retrieved on February 4, 2016 from http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/identification.pdf
Top Causes of Homelessness in America. (2016). Retrieve don February 4, 2016 from http://www.homeaid.org/homeaid-stories/69/top-causes-of-homelessness