“Homelessness in America” Sharon Rhodes South University Homelessness in America What do you think when you hear the word, “homelessness?” Did you picture a person “who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” or whose primary nighttime residence is a “supervised publicly or privately operated shelter” that provides a temporary living space (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2011)? According to Solutions for America (2011), there are anywhere between 500,000 to 600,000 homeless people in the United States at any point in time. It is difficult to get an exact count. PBS’s Facts and Figures: Homeless Program (2011), one study reports that in a given year in the United States, there are between 2.3 and 3.5 million people who are homeless at one time or another. With the current recession, it is a very real possibility that more than 1.5 million will be forced into homelessness in the next two years alone (PBS: Public Broadcasting Services, 2011).
Another big cause of homelessness is people not having health care. They could have a job, but not given the benefit of free health care, so therefore if a poor family or individual were to be seriously ill they would not have enough money to pay for their health as well as to have a home. A high percentage of homeless people also are known to have a mental illness which could make it difficult to even impossible for them to get a job. As many as 3.5 million people in the United States has been reported of experiencing homelessness in a given year, even though most were temporarily. Some statistics of reported homeless Americans show 40% are families with children—the fastest growing segment, 41% are single males, 14% are single females, 5% are minors unaccompanied by adults, 49%
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are about 672,000 homeless in America, with the most being reported in Florida. There is a lot of cost to the tax payer associated with homelessness. Research shows, that a homeless person spends an average of 4 days longer in a hospital than that of a non- homeless person, costing the tax payer about 2,400 for this visit. They also receive psychiatric treatment at a rate of 100 times more than that of a non-homeless person, costing about 3.5 million a year. Then you have the homeless people who don't receive medical treatment, and end up with long term diseases, that need long term care.
A count in January, 2007, found 745 homeless people in Lucas County, with 200 of those classified as "chronically" homeless, according to HUD data. Figures from January of this year were not immediately available. Nationally, nearly 1.6 million people were homeless and found shelter
Excessive waiting lists for public housing mean that people must remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer. For instance, in the mid-1990s in New York, families stayed in a shelter an average of five months before moving on to permanent housing. 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 results in less shelter space available for other homeless people, who must find shelter elsewhere or live on the streets. Media reports of a growing economy and low unemployment mask a number of important reasons why homelessness persists, and, in some areas of the country, is worsening.
Homelessness is defined as “having no home or permanent place of residence” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Homelessness is a problem that millions of American’s face each year including, families, children, veterans, mentally ill, and the elderly. Homelessness can be classified as transitional, episodic, or chronic. Transitional homelessness is temporary, and people are able to obtain housing after rendering services. Episodic homelessness refers to persons that have recurring housing problems.
Foreclosures have hit an all time high, and unfortunately some people were allowed to finance beyond their means and now have become homeless too. According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, “Housing assistance can make the difference between stable housing, precarious housing, or no housing at all. However, the demand for assisted housing clearly exceeds the supply: only about one-third of poor renter households receive a housing subsidy from the federal, state, or a local government. The limited level of housing assistance Campbell - 2 means that most poor families and individuals seeking housing assistance are placed on long waiting lists.” Not being able to afford housing does not mean that they are completely without a source of income. Many people that become homeless have jobs;
1 in 4 people who experience homelessness on any given night are under the age of 18"[iii]. Newspapers report that the charities which provide support services to the homeless are helping more and more families being plunged into homelessness. Mums and Dads with school aged children, or younger, who used to work and pay all their bills have lost their jobs in tough economic times. The rising cost of living can take the roof from over their heads and they too are left wondering where to go next. Homelessness is not a simple problem.
The information collected provides a snapshot of unduplicated sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families experiencing homelessness as defined by HUD. On Wednesday, January 27th the Homeless Prevention Coalition of Guilford County conducted Guilford County’s Annual Point in Time Count. The survey included only individuals willing to answer questions about their living status within a single 24 hour time period, every individual or family experiencing homelessness are not included as some refuse to participate, avoid the survey, or are not found within the 24 hour time period. The 2010 Point in Time Count reveals that 1,064 individuals experience homelessness on any given night and 131 of those individuals are experiencing chronic homelessness. This year snap shot shows an increase in homeless veterans, domestic violence victims, and homeless children, with a 55% increase in the number of Veterans living on the street or in emergency shelters, a 31% increase in the number of domestic violence victims who are experiencing homelessness (with 40% of those victims being male), and an 8% rise in the number of homeless children.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of housing and Urban Development (HUD), there were 671,888 homeless people in the United States as of January 2007, including sheltered and unsheltered population. HUD defines homelessness as lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The number of homeless fluctuates with the health of the economy (2011). Homelessness raises the susceptibility to disaster events. Some of the barriers that may prevent these groups from obtaining needed services are: The lack of health insurance, a home, financial problem, mental illness and physical inability to do for themselves.