Addressing the Homelessness Issue in America Essay

In the global realm, the US has often been regarded to be one of the richest countries. However, disappointingly, the number of homeless people in the nation has been mounting since the past few years and is observed as one of the major factors hampering the health as well as the well-being of homeless families in the US. Thus, homelessness can certainly be determined as a major economic issue at the country level. In this regard, it has been demonstrated that homeless population in the US not only comprise single populaces (i.e. people who are living without a family or relatives), but also constitute of families with children which further contributes to the criticality of the situation (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009).

In the US, around 41 of the homeless population comprise families and is also observed to be growing rapidly. The major reasons for poverty and homelessness in the US are often debated and categorized as the persisting deficiency of affordable housing and lack of employment opportunities (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). Furthermore, lack of rehabilitation services can be identified as a major cause of homelessness in the US, especially when focusing on the populaces who are already affected with drug abuses and other anti-social activities. Moreover, the federal governmental cuts on housing programs have further affected the situation increasing the number of homeless people within the nation (National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness, 2013).

In this context, it has been observed that around 3.5 million people are perceived to be homeless every year in the US. In this respect, national as well as local authorities are required to take effective initiatives with the intention of mitigating the root causes of homelessness. Moreover, strategies are required to be formulated with the motive of bestowing housing as well as employment opportunities in order to solve issues related with homelessness. Additionally, strategies are required to be formulated with regard to the development of societies as well as communities which shall in turn assist in rendering adequate education, housing as well as healthcare facilities to the homeless people (Burt, 2001).

Emphasizing on this issue, the paper will intend to discuss on the homelessness problems identified at a growing rate in the US. The discussion will further emphasize on the solutions which are available with respect to rehabilitation as well as job placement along with affordable housing for mitigating the issues of homelessness. Furthermore, the most appropriate solutions with relation to homelessness in order to reduce the number of homeless people in the US will also be determined in this discussion.

Overview

When assessing the situation of homelessness in the US, it can be apparently identified that economic conditions in the US have minimal effects on homeless people. For instance, only a one percent decrease in homelessness was recorded in the US due to its economic downfall. From an in-depth perspective, it can further be observed that this low fall in the number of homelessness is due to the investment made by the federal government towards policies as well as strategies for mitigating the issue. Despite of these decrease in the level of homelessness, there are certain other factors with relation to the economic as well as demographic issues witnessed in the US, which apparently contributes to the future increases in the number of people becoming homeless in the nation (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013). As per the statistical data obtained, in the year 2011, around 636,017 people were accounted to be homeless in various states of the US. Moreover, it was observed that among 10,000 people of the general population, 21 people were accounted to be homeless, accumulated with 31 veterans. The rate of homeless families has also been recognized to rise by 20 percent in over 11 states of the US. The rate of homelessness has been observed to escalate in 24 US states including Columbia apart from the mentioned 11 states (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013).

Contextually, there are different factors which are accounted to be responsible for the growth of homelessness in the US. In this regard, economic factors have been examined to be the major causes responsible for increased homelessness in the US. Moreover, income inequality as well as housing accommodation has also been determined as affecting the growth of homeless people in the nation. For instance, over 50 percent of the income earned by US residents are recorded to be spent on their accommodation. Apparently, in the aftermath of financial crisis, the burden of this accommodation cost has been raised to 6.2 million by the year 2010 which has left many people with insufficient earning to afford a suitable residence. Additionally, the rate of unemployment was also raised to 14.8 million in the year 2010 which can further be regarded as a vital constituent among the causing factors of homelessness in the US (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013).

The demographic factors which are responsible for the growth of homelessness in the US are identified in four segments of the aggregate population in the nation. These four segments of population comprises of (1) ‘double up’ population, (2) people who are released from prison, (3) young adults who parts from foster care and (4) people who do not possess any health insurance. ‘Double up’ population signifies people who are living with friends or non-relatives due to certain economic factors. In this respect, it has been identified that the level of this population has increased to 6.8 million as per the record obtained in the year 2010 and mainly comprise of the immigrants in the nation. Moreover, people who are released from prison as well as young adults who were recorded to be brought up under foster care have also recognized to be at high risk with regard to homelessness. People who are excluded from the policies of health insurance benefits have further been identified to constitute a major proportion of US population (i.e. 48.8 million) until the year 2010 and are determined to be at great risk in the poor economic conditions of the nation (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013).

In the US, the problems of homelessness are observed to be rising at an enormous rate. In order to counter the situation, the federal government had analyzed the homelessness conditions in the US and correspondingly, taken various strategies in order to minimize the growing number of homeless population within the country. In this respect, the federal government as well as the local authorities has been provided with enough financial support as well as assistance with the objective of supporting the homeless people within the community and therefore, mitigating the issue through short-term planning (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013).

Possible Solutions to the Situation

Rehabilitation

Homeless people, especially the mentally disordered people in the US are required to be provided with proper healthcare services with the motive of mitigating the problem. It has been further observed that around 25 percent of the homeless population in the US comprises of mentally disordered people. It is worth mentioning in this context that mental illness is determined to be the third largest problem of homelessness in the US. People with psychological problems are unable to sustain a stable relationship which often segregates them from their families as well as friends which can be identified as a cause for the growing number of homeless mentally ill people in the US. It is further in this respect that mentally ill people are recorded to be homeless in greater instances as compared to the general population (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009).
Contextually, it is suggestible in this regard that mentally ill people are offered with better rehabilitation or healthcare services so as to assist them in getting imbibed with the culture and the regular habitat in their surroundings. In this concern, programs should be formulated with the intention of bestowing better mental healthcare services to the patients by the US government at the state-level. The healthcare service providers are also required to develop a better relationship with people suffering from mental disorder which will encourage them to participate in the health development programs initiated by the government and likewise reduce their risk of being homeless.
In relation to its rehabilitation services, the nation also focuses on programs through various organizations such as PATH which principally aims at rendering ‘outreach services’, ‘habilitation and rehabilitation services’, ‘screening as well as diagnostic treatment services’, ‘community mental health services’ and ‘alcohol and drug treatment services’ (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2013).Moreover, these programs should provide free of cost mental as well as physical health treatments to the homeless people or at least at an affordable price. However, owing to the reason that costs for obtaining adequate medical facilities have been increasing in the nation, people suffering from mental diseases and also belonging to the lower income group of the economy are often found to be deprived from the benefits which again leads to an increased risk of their homelessness. Hence, these preventive programs are further required to be supported with adequate financial support. In this respect, financial supports are provided through various state-level developmental organizations including ‘Housing and Urban Development’ (HUD) as well as through the scheme of ‘Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness’ (PATH) which needs to be strengthened in terms of their reachability and effectiveness. Furthermore, financial assistance is also offered by the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’ (ARRA) with the motive of minimizing the homelessness conditions in the US which needs regular assessments in order to preserve the efficiency. It is fundamentally owing to the reason that the financial supports offered by these organizations were not sufficient or adequate in providing effective services to the homeless people in the US and thus require further developments (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009). Contextually, ‘Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals’ (GBHI) bestow funded programs as well as policies with the intention of providing better rehabilitation or healthcare facilities to the homeless people. Moreover, GBHI assists in expansion as well as strengthening treatment services for homeless people (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2013). Hence, similar initiatives should be formulated and initiated with greater significance by the nation so as to reduce the homelessness risks from the society.

Job placement

Lack of employment or job opportunity is considered to be the second major cause for homelessness in the US. In this respect, it has been observed that many people have today become jobless in the US with regard to low wage as well as lack of job opportunities which acts as one of the major cause of poverty as well as homelessness in the US. In this regard, homeless people are required to be provided with adequate support or assistance with the motive of creating better employment opportunities for such populaces and therefore assure better development of the nation on the whole (US Department of Housing & Urban Development, 2008).

In this regard, federal level, state level along with local programs have been formulated and implemented with the objective of satisfying the needs as well as the requirements of homeless people in an efficient and effective manner. With this concern, the US Department of HUD has formulated certain specific employment policies as well as strategies for aiding homeless people with better income and job opportunities. For instance, Mainstream Employment Programs have been developed in accordance with which unemployed people will be provided with minimum support wage in order to provide better support until they are eligible to obtain an appropriate job opportunity. It is in this context that similar programs should be offered amid a larger population to homeless people so as to support them in obtaining the opportunity of being employed. Moreover, similar programs can also be initiated with the aim of mitigating the problem of homelessness as well as to reduce poverty. In this respect, homeless people should be provided with employment opportunities as well as training facilities in order to assist them to increase their level of income and subsequently afford a better sustainable lifestyle. To be precise, people who are employed will be able to earn income can facilitate them in stabilizing their situations with relation to accommodation and treatment facilities. It will also facilitate homeless people to develop self-sufficiency as well as self-respect within them (US Department of Housing & Urban Development, 2008).

With a similar vision, the Department of Labor (DOL) has formulated policies or programs with relation to employment training with the assistance of providing better employment opportunities for the homeless people. Moreover, this program includes job training, placement services as well as job development services for providing better employment support to the young people who have been recorded to suffer the risk of homelessness. In this regard, it has been observed that public as well as private organizations are engaged in offering employment as well as training facilities for homeless populations (Reich, Ross & Uhalde, 2010). Therefore, both state level and local organizations associated with the deliverance of such facilities should be empowered with the intention of offering training and employment opportunities to a larger number of homeless people. Moreover, these programs are provided in both states as well as local level in order to improve the homeless situations in the US.

Affordable Housing

Lack of housing or accommodation is determined to be the major cause of homelessness in the US. In this respect, homeless people are required to be provided with affordable housing facilities with the objective of minimizing the issues substantially. It has been observed in this regard that in the US, one of the main reasons for homelessness is unaffordable housing costs for many people due to low wage as well as lack of employment opportunities (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007). In this regard, programs have been formulated and implemented which are funded by government owned organizations for providing housing facilities to the lower income group residents of the nation. These programs comprises of various services to assist the homeless people including ‘Section 8 or Public Housing’ and ‘HUD Homeless Assistance Grants’. The ‘Section 8 or Public Housing’ assists people who reside in apartments and are owned privately. In accordance with this service, the people are required to pay 30 percent of the total rent from their income, while, of the remaining 70 percent amount is promised to be paid by the government. On the other hand, the ‘HUD Homeless Assistance Grants’ are also provided to the populaces who are observed to suffer from the risk of homelessness in order to facilitate them with shelters as well as transitional housing facilities along with other services which are required by the homeless people (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007).
Moreover, it has been observed that a major proportion of homeless residents in the US are constituted with a large number of veterans which is again observed to be increasing quite rapidly. In this regard, the federal government of the US has been offering various programs with relation to funding services as well as transitional housing along with permanent housing facilities for veterans who are homeless. For instance, the ‘Grant and Per Diem’ program has been initiated with the intention of providing assistance to homeless veterans in the US either with transitional housing facilities or with permanent housing services (Perl, 2013). Furthermore, the ‘Permanent Supportive Housing Beds’, ‘Transitional Housing Beds’ along with ‘Emergency Shelter Beds’ can also be accounted as some of the programs initiated with the motive of offering housing services to homeless people (ICPH, 2011).

When assessing the statistical records and the current economic trends, the problem of homelessness can apparently be observed as rising due to the unfavorable economic conditions of the US such as rising cost of living, limited job opportunities, increasing healthcare costs and various other socio-economic factors. These factors further give rise to certain other factors which are accountable as significant causes for this homelessness situation currently witnessed in the US in terms of income inequality and greater budget deficits in relation to individual income and expenditure. In this regard, the federal government of the US has implemented certain defined strategies and policies to mitigate the problems of homelessness among its residents, with the assistance of both public as well as private organizations with homelessness prevention programs. It is worth mentioning in this context that despite such measures implemented by the government, the rate of homelessness has been increasing within the society at a substantial rate. This particular synergy prevailing within the homelessness preventive programs initiated by the US government can be further explained with the prevalence of gap in terms of adequate transparency and initiation of the planned measures. Based on this particular understanding, the further discussion focuses on suggesting two solutions, one primary and the other secondary in order to enhance the efficiency of such governmental initiatives and likewise ensure the development of the homeless people in the nation.

Most Appropriate Solution to the Situation

Primary Solution

The primary solution of the problem of homelessness in the US will be to audit the public as well as private organizations which are involved with the homelessness prevention programs. These organizations are responsible for bestowing sufficient assistance to the homeless people with the intention of offering better affordable housing facilities, job opportunities and rehabilitation services. Contextually, it has been observed that there are many organizations which are responsible for offering such supportive services to the homeless people in the US (Carter, 2011). In this regard, the organizations are required provided with sufficient funds in order to offer adequate assistance services to the homeless people. However, through critical assessments it was often argued that organizations associated with the execution of homeless prevention programs in the US lack in terms of transparency and effectiveness in accessing and likewise serving the homeless people who are actually in need and which further results in the improper allocation of resources and wastage of the same. It is owing to this particular reason as well, that the number of homeless people is observed to be rising in the US irrespective of the support and effort rendered by the government to mitigate this issue (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2007).
In this respect, the prevention programs are required to be modified as well as supported with ample funding as per the findings obtained through regular auditing with the motive of providing better assistance to the homeless people maintaining integrity and transparency in the entire process. Moreover, the prevention programs which are observed as ineffective in their approach should be eliminated for failure. In this concern, new effective programs should be formulated as well as implemented with the aim of assisting the homeless people in an enhanced manner. Furthermore, the prevention programs executing organizations, which proved to be effective in aiding the homeless people in the US, after passing through the audit process, should be provided with additional financial support so as to cover a larger proportion of the population. The prevention programs which have proved to be effective in their approaches are required also required to be encouraged in focusing extensively on serving the needful populaces with greater efficiency by developing affordable housing services.

Moreover, through the initiation of the audit programs, the actual requirements of the populaces can be identified with greater in-depth knowledge which can further be utilized to offer job placement services through effective training as well as counseling assistance. In the similar context, identifying the actual needs of the populaces through the auditing approach, the homeless people can be provided with adequate rehabilitation services, medical or healthcare services and educational facilities to stabilize their livelihood. The audit process of the homelessness prevention programs of both the public as well as private organizations will further assist in the appropriate determination of any fraudulent practices performed by any of these organizations with regard to the fund application offered for the homeless people. Moreover, the appropriate detection of discrepancies in the activities performed by these organizations, measures can be taken towards their renovation or elimination. Moreover, the US government is required to formulate strategies or plans with the motive of identifying fraudulent practices in organizations at an early stage so that the homeless prevention programs are effective in assisting the needful people.

Secondary Solution

It has been observed with regard to the programs initiated by the US government that due to lack of resources, the rising numbers of homeless people are deprived from availing the services which are rendered with the sole intention to support the livelihood of lower income group people who are unable to afford a healthy lifestyle. The sole reason behind this particular limitation witnessed in relation to the programs initiated by the US government to support the homelessness issue within the country has been identified as the reluctance deciphered by the people, who have already obtained the benefits and are now quite capable to afford a better livelihood, to become independent. As per the real life situation, people are often found to avail the support services rendered by the US government, dwell in the housing made available to them at lower rents, but even after obtaining a proper job opportunity to serve the basic requirements of their life, the residents tend to be reluctant in vacating the dwells and lead their livelihood independently. It is fundamentally due to this particular reason that other residents who are still in need of housing becomes deprived due to the continuously lessening vacancies in the housing offered by the governmental programs at comparatively lower rent than that applied in the market. This particular aspect can also be noted as a major cause for the increasing deficit of resources than that required by the US government to serve the homeless people in the nation (U.S. Department of Labor, 2013; National Coalition for the Homeless, 2012).
With the intention to mitigate this particular limitation in its housing policies, the US government needs to initiate measures through which regular assessment would be made to analyze the housing situations where people residing in government dwellings are to be provided with appropriate job opportunities to stabilize their livelihood. After these people are noted to be capable enough to sustain their basic needs independently, they should be reallocated a residence among other people in the society. In the vacant dwellings, the people who are identified to be in need and are homeless as well as incapable to afford a better livelihood should be offered with the facility until they become competent enough to satisfy their basic life requirements. They should also be supported extensively in their course to become competent enough to afford a better living style by availing a home in a healthy environment, obtaining adequate education facilities for themselves or for their children as well as by gaining a proper social-identification to get imbibed with the society after they are reallocated from the governmental dwellings. In doing so, appropriate employment facilities need to be provided to them by the government. Notably, in order to maintain a margin of resources always available for the homeless people, the government dwellings should be made vacant after every periodic audit or assessment on the basis of the capability of the person or the family obtaining the facilities. In simple words, homeless people should be provided with the housing services, medical facilities along with job and education assistances as per their requirements to become capable enough in affording the basic requirements of a healthy lifestyle. Once they are recorded to be financially and physically as well as mentally fit to lead their livelihood independently, they should be reallocated in other dwellings so as to make the housing services available for another batch of homeless people.
Through this particular strategy, the government shall be able to render housing services to a greater number of homeless people and therefore ensure that the numbers of homeless people are reducing at a consistent rate. Furthermore, in order to implement this strategy the government will require assessing the homelessness situation at more frequent intervals which will also enhance the transparency of the programs initiated making sure that the services are made available to the needful with proper allocation of resources and with integrity. Hence, the government shall be more efficient in rendering the required services to the population and consequently reduce the proportion of homeless within the nation.

Conclusion

It can be comprehended from the above discussion that the downfall of the economic conditions in the US had significantly affected the social as well as the political conditions of the nation augmenting the ratio of homeless people within the nation. In the current phenomenon, observing the substantial rise in the number of homeless people and the proportion of the population facing significant risk of homelessness, this particular issue has been considered as one of the most important economic limitations in the US. In this respect, it has been recognized that there are various factors, including the limited rehabilitation facilities, improper allocation of resources, lack of job opportunities and comparatively, increased cost of housing, which are responsible for the surging homelessness conditions in the US. It is in this context that a large number of single residents, families and veterans are observed to constitute the population of homelessness in the country.
In this respect, the federal government of US has formulated as well as implemented various prevention programs with the objective of reducing the augmenting rate of population becoming homeless. Moreover, the federal government has also strategically collaborated with various private organizations with the intention of improving the effectiveness of the homelessness prevention programs. Notably, the programs implemented can be observed to be principally focused on rehabilitation service deliverance, rendering job opportunities and affordable housing options. However, discrepancies can be observed in relation to the execution of the programs initiated which has resulted in improper allocation of resources, deprivation of the needful people from the homelessness services delivered and consequently, to the upsurge of the number of homeless people within the nation at a rapid rate. It is due to this particular reason that despite of such massive initiatives taken by the government, the number of homeless people in the US is observed to be increasing substantially. In order to mitigate this particular issue, it is required that proper measures are taken by the government to audit the public as well as the private organizations associated with the homelessness prevention programs. This will not only assist the government to ensure that the huge amounts of funds allocated to these organizations are allocated for satisfying the need of the homeless people rather than being expended in wasteful purposes. Assuring the transparency in the programs initiated by the government to mitigate the numbers of homeless people in the country, the US shall also be able to serve the residents with greater efficiency. Additionally, resource allocation can also be regarded as a major issue identifiable in the prevention programs initiated by the government where people are allocated with dwelling at governmental costs but are later identified to be reluctant in vacating the homes even if they are quite capable to satisfy their basic requirements. These populaces are thus required to be identified through regular assessments of the governmental dwellings to reallocate these resources to the people who are in need. Allocating proper job opportunities along with medical facilities should also be accounted as the major aspects which need to be considered with greater importance by the US government.

References

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