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  • 1. It is hard for many of us to imagine not having a place we call our own. It is even harder to imagine not having a place to sleep at night that is out in the elements, but for Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:05 PM Deleted: out of many Americans this is a harsh reality of their daily lives. Homelessness is a national Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:05 PM Deleted: , Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:05 PM problem that affects our whole society. In a recent USA Today, it was estimated that 1.6 Deleted: r million “unduplicated persons used transitional housing or emergency shelters” (National Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:05 PM Deleted: people Coalition for the Homeless, How Many People Experience Homelessness?, 2009). Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:05 PM Deleted: Minors, children under the age of 18, make up 39% of the homeless population. Out of Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:06 PM Deleted: , these children, 42% were under five (http://www.misd.net/homeless/statistics.htm). This Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:06 PM Deleted: o same source also calculates that 20% of homeless children don’t receive regular medical care and go hungry twice as often as other children. Also, homeless children double the rate of being diagnosed with a learning disability with a rate of 14%. “According to the Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:06 PM Deleted: at National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, in 2004, 25% of the homeless were ages 25-34; the same study found percentages of homeless persons aged 55 to 64 at 6% Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:07 PM Deleted: ” (National Coalition for the Homeless, Who is Homeless?, 2009).” As the baby boomer generation ages, one can only assume that the number of elderly homeless will also Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:07 PM Deleted: elderly increase. Among the fastest growing segment of the homeless population are families with children, representing almost 41% (http://www.misd.net/homeless/statistics.htm, March 25, 2010). Compared to the general population, homeless people spend more time in the hospital and jail (http://solutionsforamerica.org/thrivingneigh/homelessness.html, April 1, 2010). This article also stated that a great number of this group are victims of Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:08 PM Deleted: people crimes that are violent, and one-fourth do not receive the medical care they need. The Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:08 PM Deleted: violate Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:08 PM National Coalition for the Homeless has stated that single adults make up 76% of the Deleted: homeless population and that 67.5% of these single adults are males. “In its 2006 survey
  • 2. of 25 cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that the sheltered homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-Americans, 38 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian (National Coalition for the Homeless, Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:09 PM Deleted: ” Who is Homeless?, 2009).” Not only are these statistics astonishing but research shows that homelessness has increased dramatically over the past two decades (National Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:09 PM Deleted: increasing Coalition for the Homeless, How Many People Experience Homelessness?, 2009) Keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to have 100% accuracy when gathering statistics on the homeless because “most studies are limited to counting people who are in shelters or on the streets” (National Coalition for the Homeless, How Many People Experience Homelessness?, 2009). Often people who are homeless but are living with family or Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:09 PM Deleted: situations that friends are not counted. This can underestimate homelessness. Homelessness, being a temporary situation in many incidents makes it difficult to track as well. Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Deleted: keep There are several causes for homelessness. Many homeless people have severe Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:09 PM Deleted: of continual tribulations including mental and physical disabilities, addiction to substances Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Deleted: such as alcoholism, poor health, criminal histories, and lack of employment (Shlay & Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Deleted: , Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Rossi, 1992). In the publication Why are People Homeless? by the National Coalition for Deleted: the Homeless, these causes and other factors contributing to homelessness are looked at Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Deleted: s more closely. They found a 32% jump in foreclosures between April 2008 and April 2009, making foreclosures a definite cause in the rise of homelessness. Poverty is almost a given among homeless people. The two elements directly related with poverty are declining work opportunities and the eroding public assistance. Declining work Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:10 PM Deleted: ; opportunities can be linked to deindustrialization and the transfer of manufacturing jobs to service jobs (Eitzen, Zinn, & Smith, 2009). Along with less jobs, wages for the Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:11 PM Deleted: there being
  • 3. occupations that are available have decreased as well. For example, “minimum wage in Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:11 PM Deleted: too 2004 was 26% less than in 1979 (National Coalition for the Homeless, Why Are People Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:11 PM Deleted: e Homeless?, 2009).” This decline can be traced back to the drop in the amount of and Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:11 PM Deleted: ” bargaining power of unions. As stated previously, the corrosion of public assistance is a huge part of poverty. For example, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the largest money aid to underprivileged families with children, was replaced with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and was only able to help a third of the families that the previous program had. Another cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Between 1980 and 2003 the amount of help given for low-income housing from the government decreased 49%. The number of people that are searching for assistance in housing exceeds the supply, therefore most of the homeless and poor are placed on a long waiting list. “Today the average wait for Section 8 Vouchers is 35 months (National Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:12 PM Deleted: ” Coalition for the Homeless, Why are People Homeless?, 2009).” High medical bills can also plummet people into homelessness when they can not afford to pay them or their rent. Domestic violence can also cause homelessness when battered husbands and wives must choose between the streets and the abusive relationship. Mental illness also plays a major role in homelessness. Interestingly, only 6% of Americans have been diagnosed with a mental illness but they make up 26% of all homeless population (National Coalition for the Homeless, Who is Homeless?, 2009). According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council 38% of homeless people have an alcohol addiction and 26% have problems with other drugs making up 26% of all shelter residents (National Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:12 PM Deleted: ce Coalition for the Homeless, Who is Homeless?, 2009).
  • 4. As seen previously, both the individual and society are to blame for the problem of homelessness in America. Despite being unable to pinpoint the exact number of the Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:12 PM homeless population or causes of it on a general basis, there is no doubt that it is a Deleted: Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:13 PM problem that we as a nation must deal with. Raising awareness about homelessness is Deleted: or Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:13 PM imperative. There are several ways to do this. The Mariette Times reports a youth group Deleted: bases in Ohio spent the night in a Kmart parking lot. About twenty 20 young people spent the night in cardboard boxes and collected money for a local family who had lost their home (http://www.mariettatimes.com/page/content.detail/id/520705.html?nav=5004, March 30, 2010). Prince William did a similar thing to raise awareness by sleeping under a London bridge (http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2009/12/prince- william-sleeps-alley-raise-awareness-homeless April 11, 2010; 'Homeless' Prince Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:13 PM William spends night on street By Phil Han, CNN December 23, 2009 Deleted: ).( http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/12/23/prince.william.homeless.uk/index.ht ml). Shane Claiborne writes about a park in Philadelphia that had banned food and Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:13 PM sleeping to try to crack down on homeless people living there. Feeling that this was Deleted: d unjustified, he along with a group of people starting having communion in the park and spending the night. They received a lot of media attention but were eventually arrested. When there case came before a judge all charges were dropped and their actions helped Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:14 PM to change the regulation of food and sleep in that park (Claiborne, 2006). Lastly, in Deleted: re Maricopa County they held an awareness week (by Cecilia Chan - Oct. 26, 2009 12:00 AM The Arizona Republic (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/10/26/20091026wvhomeless1026.html). During this week, to help put a face with the cause, speakers gave testimonials of what their lives were like before, during, and after being homeless.
  • 5. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has composed a 10 year plan to end homelessness (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2003). This plan includes getting commitments from government officials and homeless providers that they will implement and fund strategies to end homelessness. Next, communities must be informed and gather data about the homeless such as; what their needs are, the Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:15 PM usefulness and weakness of prior programs, and how to number the homeless. An Deleted: are Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:15 PM emergency prevention program should also be put in place this include Deleted: what is Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:15 PM “rent/mortgage/utility assistance, case management, landlord/lender intervention,” and Deleted: E other ways of thwarting evictions. Once people are in the homeless system they should be moved quickly into permanent housing arrangements. Many homeless people are also users of other public systems like welfare, veterans’ benefits and health systems (http://www.endhomelessness.org/section/tools/tenyearplan/execsum). If public systems were all better at caring for people and meeting their needs, then this would put a stop to people needing assistance in more than one area. For example, if a person using the Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:16 PM mental illness system is properly treated they would be less likely to become homeless. Deleted: e But if the mental health system fails, there is a greater risk of that individual becoming Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:16 PM homeless. Raising minimum wage is a solution already in effect reaching $9.50 by Deleted: ly ill 2011(National Coalition for the Homeless, Who is Homeless?, 2009). It has been found that landlords seem to distrust homeless people making their attempts to find housing even less successful (Dalton, Clark, & Conley, 1996). Along the same lines, if the stigma that comes along with being labeled homeless was changed, it would help the homeless to not be automatically blamed for their current situation (Phelan, Link, Moore, & Stueve, 1997).
  • 6. Where am I going to use the bathroom? Am I going to be warm tonight when I sleep outside? Will I be turned away at the food bank? These are some of the questions that might run through a homeless person’s mind. Not only is it stressful to not know the answers to these questions but it is also unnecessary for many people to even have to wonder about these things because homelessness is a fixable problem for most. We must look at solutions that will end this social problem not just manage it. With numbers on the rise, it is now more important than ever that we take action. Thomas Case 4/14/10 10:17 PM Deleted: e                                                                
  • 7. 1.Can  you  image  being  one  illness,  one  accident,  or  one  paycheck  away  from  being   homeless?  For  many  poor  just  one  of  these  could  mean  exactly  that.  “Since 2000, the incomes of low-income households has declined as rents continue to rise (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005). In 2009, a worker would need to earn $14.97 to afford a one-bedroom apartment and $17.84 to afford a two-bedroom apartment. There has been an increase of 41% from 2000 to 2009 in fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit, according to HUD (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2009).” (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html)   Excessive waiting lists for public housing mean that people must remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer. In a survey of 24 cities, people remain homeless an average of seven months, and 87% of cities reported that the length of time people are homeless has increased in recent years (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Longer stays in homeless shelters result in less shelter space available for other homeless people, who must find shelter elsewhere or live on the streets. In 2007, it was found that average stay in homeless shelters for households with children was 5.7 months, while this number is only slightly smaller for singles and unaccompanied children at 4.7 months. (The U.S. Conference for Mayors, 2007). This is a national problem PP—Stats on numbers of homeless; graphs http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2673 : videos http://www.endhomelessness.org/section/data/homelessnessinst 2.Raise awareness This problem is caused by both individuals and by Americas social structure PP—List ways to raise awareness; Who causes homelessness 3.  http://www.endhomelessness.org/section/tools/essentials/plan     The  National  Alliance  to  End  Homelessness  has  10  esstentials  to  ending  homelessness  these   include;   PP-­‐  10  ways  to  end  homelessness;  Websites  to  go  to  for  more  info  and  to  give  to  the  cause     National Problem Stats— 2.Raise Awareness By – claimsmaking  activities     typify  the  problem  for  others   is  it  a  problem  caused  by  individuals,  the  larger  social  structure,  or  both  (or  something   else)?   convince  a  broader  audience  that  first  of  all  the  issue  is  a  social  problem     3.  some  solutions  to  the  problem  to  your  audience.  These  solutions  must  be  grounded  in   sociological  research  and  viable  (possible  to  achieve  and  potentially  effective)  potential   effectiveness,  expense,  and  creativity.    
  • 8. Social support(Shlay & Rossi, 1992) Lack of family foster care