Posts Tagged Homeless
According to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the federal definition homelessness is a person who sleeps in a place not meant for human habitation. This includes people who sleep on the streets, in a car, in a park, and also includes people sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing. In an effort to identify the severity of homelessness and determine the amount of federal funds needed to address this issue, HUD compiles statistics each year to prepare a report for Congress. The latest report determined in January 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations. Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). These statistics also include 49,933 homeless veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Homelessness in the United States is a complex problem with a wide range of causes. These causes include mental health issues, loss of employment, fleeing from domestic abuse, addiction, returning military veterans, and victims of natural disasters. Regardless of cause, those who are homeless suffer one of two different situations: chronically homeless and temporary homelessness.
Chronically homeless is defined by HUD as a person who has been homeless for twelve consecutive months or has had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. The majority of these people have become chronically homeless because of a disabling condition. HUD defines a disabling condition as a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, a serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions. In addition, a disabling condition limits an individual’s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living. Many chronically homeless individuals either don’t have the resources to bath, or because of a mental health issue, are not concerned about hygiene. Due to their appearance the chronically homeless have become the face of homelessness in the United States.
Temporary homelessness is an episode of homelessness that doesn’t last more than twelve consecutive months. HUD defines an episode of homelessness as a separate, distinct, and sustained stay on the streets and/or in a homeless emergency shelter. These are people who have suffered some type of setback or tragic event like loss of employment, foreclosure, loss of a loved one, or a medical condition that has depleted all their funds and could no longer pay rent or buy food. One of the toughest challenges for this homeless population is making every attempt to not look homeless. They must make extra efforts to do laundry, practice good hygiene, and maintain a presentable appearance. This includes bathing in a restroom sink at a library or gas station to prepare for job interviews or other important appointments. If they are successful in these attempts individuals experiencing temporary homelessness to do appear to be homeless.
Current statistics published by HUD indicate some progress has been made in America’s attempt to address homeless causes and issues. Chronic homelessness among individuals declined by 3 percent (or 2,164) over the past year, and by 30 percent (or 36,197) between 2007 and 2014. Homelessness among veterans declined by 33 percent (or 24,117) between 2009 and 2014
There is something you can do to help the homeless in your area and it may sound strange; do not give money to homeless people who are panhandling. If you want to help you might be doing more good by volunteering or making a contribution to an organization in your city that serves homeless populations.
Not giving money to homeless individuals may seem like a lack of compassion, but addiction is a leading cause of homelessness. Giving money, even spare change, could actually be causing more harm than good. If that individual you gave money to is suffering with addiction issues chances are the money you gave could go toward the purchase of drugs or alcohol and not food. Also if you engaged in dialogue with an individual suffering from a mental health issue, there is a possibility their behavior could be unpredictable and could put you at risk.
You may think charitable acts of giving money to homeless individuals are good intentions that help reduce the problems that confront them, but this may not be the case. Assisting an organization that serves homeless populations is a much more effective and safer way you can help. People who work at social service agencies are case managers, social workers, nurses, and doctors who deal with homelessness on a daily basis. They’re aware of the causes, issues, and challenges of homeless individuals and families. They know what issues are the most acute, and know how to deal with unpredictable behavior that might be the result of a mental health issue.
When you volunteer or make a contribution to a social service agency you’re getting more bang for your buck. This will accomplish more than just giving money to homeless who solicit in public places. Your efforts will increase the resources trained professionals need to effectively identify causes and help homeless individuals and families with food, programs, and resources.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness claims on any night in the United States 640,000 people experience homelessness. To better understand “Homeless” we must first define the term. That is not an easy task because homelessness is a complicated issue. Certain criteria must be met for a person to be considered homeless. To best define the term in simple words, homelessness means an individual or family must sleep in a structure not suitable for human habitation, such as cars, sidewalks, parks or abandoned buildings. This also includes individuals who are scheduled to be released from an intuition, treatment program, or hospital within 30 days and no plan for housing in place. This definition is brief at best. For a more information you can go to the US Department of Health and Human Services website.
We can’t talk about the topic of homelessness without first mentioning the Homeless American Veteran. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reports close to 60,000 veterans are homeless. Nearly half of them served in Vietnam. Many other homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. At this point in time, younger homeless veterans make up about eight per cent of the homeless veteran population, but that number is increasing.
There are several circumstances that cause homelessness, but those who become homeless fall into one of two categories; transitional and chronic. It’s estimated that the chronically homeless make up the largest portion of America’s homeless population. The majority of these individuals surfer from some type of mental health issue. Mental health also includes addiction.
Those who are transitional homeless are currently experiencing homelessness for the first time and make up smaller number of America’s homeless. On average, they can regain some type of suitable housing within 12 to 18 months. One of their biggest challenges is trying to not look homeless. It is typical for them to bathe in public restrooms to prepare for appointments and job interviews. This segment of America’s homeless population has the ability to be retrained and acquire marketable skills.
While those who are transitional homeless make every attempt to not look homeless, those who are chronically homeless are highly visible on American streets and present with the biggest challenge in attempting to overcome homelessness. These individuals need additional resources that would include some form of treatment to address issues that made them homeless. It is important that our society address the issue of the chronically homeless, but if we also turn attention to the transitional homeless with a different goal in mind, we could reduce homeless statistics and better improve America’s standing in the world in manufacturing and technology.
There is no doubt the United States needs to retrain its workforce. Once a world leader in manufacturing, America now trails behind several other countries. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that America imports more than it exports. America needs to develop and manufacture products the world needs and we have the potential to do that.
Here is just one example of an opportunity the United States has to increase manufacturing and technology within its own borders; Rare Earth Metals are used for making anything electronic from cell phones to TVs. The continental United States has about 14 rare earth mines, some of the largest deposits of rare earth metals in the world are right here. Once we mine rare earth metals, the United States has to ship them to China to be manufactured because we don’t know how. Yet we have so many people who have the ability and desperately want to be retrained and gain long-term employment.
Addressing the Homeless issue in America will require more than a quick fix because it is a complicated issue. However, it is possible to significantly reduce homeless statistics in general if we create resources for those who have the ability to be retained. We can’t expect the government to do all of the work; we must also look to American corporations to institute programs, maybe even with tax incentives, which will hire and re-train the American worker. “Investing in America” is not just a cliché. It appears we have not been doing that lately and look where we are.
This proposal of identifying the employable segment of our population and retraining them with marketable skills is not a new concept; America has done this before with a high degree of success. We must look at our history and examine those programs that did work to re-employ people, update them and make them adoptable to the needs of a modern-day economy, and reinstitute them. When we Americans reduce our homeless population, we will strengthen our middle class and enhance our own sustainably.