A homeless individual is described as:
“… An individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation” (National Health Care for the Homeless Council, 2018).
Massachusetts has long prided itself with good quality of living and health. However, the ability for an unstable person to maintain a family is becoming more expensive as the cost for daily living necessities such as food and clothing are inflating. Government officials in Massachusetts are trying to find a way to fund homeless services. They are doing this by requesting federal grants and creating housing programs for the individuals in need of home. As a result, this makes Boston’s funding system complicated and unable to increase the low rate of homeless care in the local area. There is a lack of affordability and poor attention given to people living on the streets. This is an issue because a problem cannot be solved if it is not acknowledged. People lose their life savings, health insurance, means of transportation, a piece of mind, and home when they become victims of homelessness. These are people that do not have families to give them moral support.
They also do not have the strength to remain stable because of the predicaments they encounter. Some of the predicaments they encounter is not surmounting drugs or alcohol addiction, not finding a stable source of food, and not having a job. The system covers homeless people by providing them with health insurance, a job, and the opportunity to be involved in the society. However, it is not enough for them to live their life in the pursuit of happiness. It is appalling that on many cold nights, so many people are found huddled on concrete floors or on cardboard boxes—the places they call home. Others worry that they will not have food for the day or a place to sleep at night. They have to wake up early to find their way on staying alive. Homeless people are not accepted into certain facilities just because they are homeless.
People living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless. It is recorded that on January 2017, 17,565 people were undergoing homelessness (Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless). According to the 2017 homelessness report, the population consists of 47% Whites, 41% African American, 7% multiracial, and 22% Hispanic or Latino (Henry, Watt, Rosenthal, & Shivji, 2017, p.8). In addition, people who recently are released from prison are also at high risk of homelessness because they do not have any possessions over anything. As As a result, they depend on the streets and government to give them their life necessities such as food and clothing.
The ages within the homeless population vary. In 2017, the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report found that “Children under the age of 18 made up 59 percent of people experiencing homelessness in families” (Henry, Watt, Rosenthal, & Shivji, 2017, p. 32). Young people often become homeless due to family conflicts such as divorce, neglect, or abuse. They also run away from their homes because of their sexual orientation, teen pregnancies, disabilities, etc. A way to cope with their traumatic experiences, they consume drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate. Adults on the other hand experience homelessness or are on the verge of it because of illnesses, loss of partner, job or the cost of their housing is too expensive. Along with the group of females that are affected, there are also men who are homeless as well. People with disabilities is a large group who are affected by homelessness. Disabled individuals become homeless due to things like lack of government assistance, lack of education, or lack of attention from their families:
Additionally, the homeless are more likely than nonhomeless to be denied for SSI based upon an incomplete or insufficient consultative examinations offered by representatives from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Approximately 29% of adult SSI claims are approved, whereas homeless individuals are approved at about half that rate—despite their potentially higher likelihood to qualify for such benefits (Macgregor, 2014, p. 300). The government created a burden on the disabled people because they do not give them any medical attentions during their most vulnerable moments in life. The government established The Social Security Administration and Supplemental Security Income disability programs. The Social Security Administration “ is committed to helping maintain the basic well-being and protection of the people we serve” (Social Security Administration). The Supplemental Security Income “is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income and it provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter” (Social Security Administration). Even with these programs, the United States does not address the people with disabilities fully like they should be and that creates a bigger hole for the disabled homeless community. When a person is both disabled and homeless, it requires more than one assistance and to have barriers put in front of them from the only services they have, does not help them in any way.
Homelessness has been an issue for a long time in the United States, especially in Boston and little has been done due to political and economical factors. “The terms “homeless” and “homelessness” came into lexicon in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when modern homelessness began to appear” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2018). We often do not hear about this issue because the system does not know how to deal with such massive issue, and many people who are able to talk about it are not in the situation.
Although there is a small group of people who have thrived from getting out of homelessness, there are many who are still on the streets and their stories are not heard. “People continue to experience the social and material deprivation of homelessness, not because we lack the scientific knowledge but rather because of our values and the political decisions we make” (Parsell, 2017, p. 134). Today in America, we have organizations and foundations that try to address homelessness like the Friends
of Boston’s Homeless that help with this cause, but the help is not enough because of low funding.
Homeless people are constantly moving around public places such as parks, and stations. This makes them prone to being exposed to diseases and bacteria because they are frequently used but not frequently cleaned. Homeless people spread infections and diseases quicker than a usual person that is sick at home because they are always on the streets with no resources to do simple things like wash their hands, shower or other needed things. More than half of the emergency room visits made by homeless people are for reasons that could have been prevented if they had a constant place to clean themselves or a private home. They have a higher chance of getting hypertension, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS than a stable person because of them being exposed easier (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2018). This is due to the homeless’ unsafe environment and lack of clean hygiene. Many homeless people are often rejected to receive a job specifically because of their social status, economically or because of how they look physically. Keeping homeless people out of public areas can help keep them healthier and the environment sanitized but providing homeless with places to live can also help.
Homelessness goes even further in its destruction in society, for it negatively affects on homeless children. Because they are homeless at a young age, they do not have an adult figure to tell them from right to wrong. Subsequently, they will be under the influence of stealing from people and having no education. When having a lack of education, it causes the children to be ignorant and misbehave. When those things happen in the real world, it creates an unsafe environment to those around them and themselves. A kid growing up homeless, currency is not a thing. They steal in order to feed themselves and clothe themselves. Also, in order to go to school they need to be admitted which most are not usually. Once the children become adults, they have a higher chance of being homeless because they do not have the right education to buy a house or rent an apartment or even have a high school diploma to get into college. Since most homeless people are poor, they do not have the resources to provide for their children. Not only does homelessness affect the education of the homeless children, but also their way of living. This creates a cycle for their living situations because they become accustomed to this living and it hinders them from succeeding in the future. Luckily, there are alternatives to help solve the traumatic issue of homelessness.
Homelessness is still seen today and it is seen worse in certain places and no one still knows what is the key to eradicate such issue.In order to help alleviate the problem, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness created a ten year plan. Their results were “over the last 6 years alone, USICH reports a 33% reduction of veteran homelessness, 21% reduction of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, and a 53% reduction in unsheltered homelessness among families” (Hodge, DiPietro, & Horton-Newell, 2017). The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness pro is that it prioritizes to eradicate homelessness. However, they work with other agencies to make everything into reality. With that being said, they can create an idea but it is not guaranteed that everyone will support it, so that can be tough at times. Another alternative helping to solve homelessness is Friends of Boston’s Homeless. The program’s mission is to close the gap between public funding and the needs of the homeless by providing personal assistance ( Friends of Boston’s Homeless). The programs pro is that it helps people that have lost their dignity due to many life rejections such as losing everything they owned in life. A con is the lack of donors available to give homeless people the resources needed to get out of being homeless.
After doing various amounts of research on homelessness, I have come to the conclusion that homelessness is an issue that cannot be eradicated, but can be altered to be better. The only question that arose while a recommendation I would make to better address the issue is increase funds towards current established programs, so that it can improve the quality of care that administrators are giving to the homeless people. Also, educating other citizens on the damage that is done while being homeless is important because people need to understand the importance of roles in society. This is important to me because many citizens do not know specific statistics and information on the living standards of others. This research informed my own professional direction or future course study by making me to want to do a career that can help lessen homelessness like in a healthcare setting.
- Friends of Boston’s Homeless. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://www.fobh.org/
- Henry, M., Watt, R., Rosenthal, L., & Shivji, A. (2017). The 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Retrieved from https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2017-AHAR-Part-1.pdf
- Hodge, J. G., DiPietro, B., & Horton-Newell, A. (2017). Homelessness and the Public’s Health: Legal Responses. Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics,45, 28-32. doi:10.1177/1073110517703314
- Macgregor, C. (2014). Case Study of a Legal-Oriented Intervention to Assist Homeless Disabled Individuals With SSI/SSDI Applications. Journal of Poverty,18(3), 299-314. doi:10.1080/10875549.2014.923963
- Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. (n.d.). Basic Facts on Homelessness in Massachusetts and Across the Country. Retrieved from https://www.mahomeless.org/about-us/basic-facts
- National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2018). Health. Retrieved from https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/what-causes-homelessness/health/
- National Coalition for the Homeless. (2018, June 14). #TBT – HOBOES, BUMS, TRAMPS: HOW OUR TERMINOLOGY OF HOMELESSNESS HAS CHANGED. Retrieved from https://nationalhomeless.org/tag/history/
- National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2018). What is the official definition of homelessness? Retrieved from https://www.nhchc.org/faq/official-definition-homelessness/
- Parsell, C. (2017). Do We Have the Knowledge to Address Homelessness? Social Service Review,91(1), 134-153. doi:10.1086/691102
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Social Security. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/agency/
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Supplemental Security Income Home Page — 2018 Edition. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/
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