Can We Put an End to Homelessness? (by Alexa Fery)

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There are a lot of wide spread problems in the world around us including hunger, poverty, pollution, climate change, population, etc. These problems occur all over the world and are so distinct it is difficult to find a solution. Did you know there are 600,000 Americans that do not have a home to go to every night? Over the course of the term, I have been working with the theme of homelessness. I have learned a lot about homelessness for example, there are three main types of homelessness: transitional, episodic, and chronic. Every homeless person fits into one of these categories. Another thing that I learned that was very interesting is that it is almost impossible to make a living off of a minimum wage job. According to National Coalition for the Homeless, the 2013 Housing Wage was $18.79 which is surpassing the hourly wage of $14.32. If someone has a minimum wage job, it is nearly impossible to pay the rent, buy your food, and/or provide for your family. With all of this being said, poverty is the bigger issue here; if there was no poverty in the world, the amount of homeless people would be drastically lower. Poverty is defined as; the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor. (dictionary.com) As you can see, homelessness is a big problem, but is there a solution?

This is not something that can change over night. In fact, this will take years, but many believe it can be done. According to Coalition for the Homeless, it is proven that investments in permanent housing are extremely effective in diminishing homelessness while being cost-effective at the same time. Research shows that investing in permanent housing is actually less expensive than shelters for the homeless. Permanent housing is affordable and helps with services for individuals living with mental illness, HIV/AIDS or other serious health issues. As I stated before, permanent housing is much cheaper than other forms of institutional care such as mental hospitals. The goal is to get all homeless people off the streets and into a home they can afford and permanent housing helps reach this goal.

As said by, theatlantic.com president Obama proclaimed a plan to end the homelessness of children and families by 2020 but as you could guess, there have been troubles with finding the money and how to disperse it. Since this plan is struggling a new three-year plan has been developed and it is called the Family Options Study. This is a three-year-long evaluation of three ways to help homeless families lead by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The plan looks at families in a variation of U.S. cities and involves 2,300 homeless families. The plan is now at the mid-point. The study is going well and is in fact reducing the amount of homeless families in major cities but they are no where close to finding a way to completely eliminate homelessness. Although there has been numerous studies and experiments done with homelessness, a true solution never seems to arise.

In 2014, Bryce Covert decided to write an article telling the story of somebody else: a man named Kirk. After Covert explains Kirk’s story he relates it to the big picture of homelessness. Kirk had lost his job, and had been homeless since 2009. He had a bachelor’s degree so he thought he would have no problem finding a job. He had applied to hundreds of different jobs it had felt like but it never seemed to work out. Although he had gotten a few temporary jobs over the years, these jobs were only seasonal. Kirk explained that trying to find work and not having a place to go home too is extremely challenging. “The country has experienced mass homelessness not seen since the Great Depression. More than 600,000 Americans don’t have a home to sleep in on any given night, with over 100,000 chronically dealing with the problem” explained Covert. He also went into detail about how for decades now, homelessness has always been a problem. It is just recently that it is increasing and we are now trying to find solutions. Permanent housing has come a long way. It helps people get back on their feet and do what ever they need to do to find a job and not have to worry about if they have a home to go back to at night. If they cannot find a job within a certain amount of time then they are not allowed to be in the house anymore, and this gives them some sort of push to find a job and improve their lifestyle.

As my final source I wanted to talk about an article from huffingtonpost.com that had some interesting facts in it, and as my last source of information I wanted to share these facts. To begin, it was recorded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that there were 500,000 people that were homeless in 2015. As bad as that sounds it gets worse: a quarter of those people were children. Although this number is slightly lower than 2014’s numbers, it is still way too high. The overall number of homeless people has declined 53% and that is partly because of President George W. Bush enforcing his approach called “housing first”. This approach was first introduced in 2005 to fight against homelessness and has been fulfilled across the country ever since. The goal of this approach is to find living arrangements for homeless people rapidly by negotiating affordable housing with landlords. It is proven that once people have a home they are less likely to end up on the streets again, in hospitals or in jails. Many public officials agree that homelessness can be ended and that it is the humane thing to do.

 

In conclusion I want to explain some things that you as an individual can do to help prevent/end homelessness. I also want to give my opinion to the question: can an end be put to homelessness? The biggest thing anyone can do to help the homeless is to simply volunteer. This could be for one day or every day, any little bit helps. Volunteering to help feed the homeless, shelter the homeless or even to just put a smile on their face makes all the difference. Another big thing in stopping homelessness is to educate people! The fact is, people are just not educated enough. Invite people you know to volunteer with you or organize an event to give people the facts and help them understand homelessness better. Last but not least; contribute. Donate clothing, food, first aid supplies, books, toiletries, etc. Often times a homeless person is not prepared to go out and find a job, they do not have the appropriate clothing attire or they do not have a tooth brush to brush their teeth. A little help can go a long way!

After doing all this research throughout the term I came to my own conclusion that there will never be an END to homelessness. I think there are plenty of great ways to prevent it, but none to actually put an end to it. There are so many people to worry about in this world and we can do everything we can to try to end homelessness but I think there will always be that handful of people who will reject help. We can donate money, food, clothing and such to people but in the end they have to accept it, take matters into their own hands and make a change. Finally, I just wanted to add in some screenshots from a conversation I had on Facebook. I am currently participating in the extra credit assignment in this class and I did not expect it to go over this well. Here are the screenshots. People are giving their opinions after I asked the question of: Do you think there is a solution to end homelessness? What are your thoughts? What steps could a community take to end homelessness? Here’s some responses…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources cited and annotated

 

 

Sources Cited

 

“We Can End the Homelessness Crisis.” Coalition for the Homeless. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is an organization that takes action to end homelessness. Their website is full of information, proven solutions, or even ways that every individual can get involved. The website also does a great job educating people on homelessness. They have a whole section on FAQ’s which was very helpful to me throughout this process. This source related to my question because it had a section specifically for my question of: is there an end to homelessness? It provided me a lot of good information that I was able to use for my research.

 

 

 

Semuels, Alana. “The Best Way to End Homelessness.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 11 July 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

This article went into detail about permanent housing. It also gave background information on previous plans to end homelessness such as the one President Obama put in order in 2010. Semuels explained permanent housing and the positives and negatives to it. This article related to my question because it gave a possible solution to end homelessness and I was able to educate myself on this form of a resolution.

 

Covert, Bryce. “It Would Actually Be Very Simple To End Homelessness Forever.” Think Progress. N.p., 9 Oct. 2014. Web.

This article caught my eye because Covert told the story of a homeless man named Kirk who lived in Seattle. I think that relating facts to something personal helps the writing become much more interesting. Once Covert told the story of Kirk he then went into detail about the problem he was trying to address. The reason this relates to my question is because he gave exact facts of why people are homeless and I was able to use those facts to back up my opinion of how it is crucial to find a solution to homelessness.

 

Mathias, Christopher. “Yes, It’s Possible To End Homelessness In The United States.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 May 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

This article gave facts about homelessness and also introduced plans that President Obama and President Bush has put into play. It explained that these plans do not always work, the government can help but in the end it is up to the people to make the difference. This article relates to my question because showing that government officials have made attempts to end homelessness proves how important this issue is and it gives the reader an idea of what the government has in mind to end homelessness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Ethan Crisi

    Alexa,

    I found your blog post very interesting informative. I didn’t know there were three kinds of homelessness and that you could classify all homeless people into at least one of these groups. I totally agree with your statement that it is almost impossible to live off of a minimum wage job. If I weren’t living at home there is no way I would be able to afford the cost of living, food, insurance, and all the other bills that come with being independent. Next, I really liked your idea of permanent housing for homeless people, this is something that I had never thought of before. One thing that could go wrong with permanent housing is homeless could take advantage of them and use them for drug houses, or other illegal things they may be already addicted to. Finally, I like your ideas in an effort to decreasing the amount of homeless on the street. Over the past couple years I have volunteered through my church to go feed the homeless in Portland and provide them with clothing/shelter. This was a very cool opportunity and I think its something that everyone should volunteer for at least once in their life time. It can be really eye opening to see how some people really live, which puts into perspective how much many of us actually have. Overall, good blog post and I enjoyed reading your research and thoughts on homelessness.

    Ethan

  2. Andi Esguerra

    Alexa,

    First let me say, WOW!!! This was such a well written paper. I really enjoyed reading it. You had so many strengths in this paper. I really enjoyed all the facts that were in this paper. I had no idea how many homeless people there were in the America. You clearly put in a lot of work into this paper. I think you also did a really good job keeping your reader thinking by asking questions and starting your whole paper off with really interesting facts.
    The one thing I wish I had seen was a list of places where you could volunteer making it more available to the reader and easier for them to get involved. Overall I think you did a great job on your paper. Adding in that Facebook post added even more opinions and argumentation into your paper. Great job!

    Andi

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