According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, in 2008 roughly 670,000 people in America were homeless. Of that number, 58% were living in shelters and/or transitional housing and 42% were unsheltered. Since 2008, these numbers have been rapidly growing due to the economic recession. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, presently an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States are homeless.
I can bet that each individual in this room knows at least one person that is homeless and, if not, well; you do now because he is speaking to you at this very moment. Yes, I was homeless.
Today, I would like to speak to you about homelessness and how it is affecting our local communities, and our great country, as well. Personally, I can tell you first-hand what it is like to be homeless and what a challenge it has been to get some type of government and/or local assistance.
What defines someone as homeless? An individual that lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence clearly defines them as being homeless. Most people assume that when someone is homeless, they are mentally ill or substance abusers. This is not always the case. Homeless people include healthy men, women, and children. One out of 50, or about 1.5 million American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the Nation Center on Family Homelessness.
On June 22, 2010, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness delivered to President Obama and Congress the nation’s first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness called, “Opening Doors.” Upon, accepting this plan, President Obama expressed the importance of tackling “national challenges like homelessness.”
The major problem with this plan is that it is designed to:
End chronic homelessness in five years;
2. Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years;
3. Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth and children in 10 years.
Another major problem is that President Obama and his staff plan to end homelessness by the year 2020. President Obama stated that, “It is simply unacceptable for individuals, children, families and our nation’s Veterans to be faced with homelessness in this country.” Actually, waiting until 2020 to end homelessness, is unacceptable!
oHHomeless adults are least likely to get healthcare services, such as, basic medical services, surgical procedures, eye care, dental benefits, and prescription drugs. This can lead to the spread of diseases.
The violence and death rate amongst homeless people is on the rise. In fact, in August 2009, forty-three homicides were reported within the homeless population.
The failure of urban housing projects to provide safe, secure, and affordable housing to the poor is another contributing factor of homelessness.
There are not enough available shelters and/or services for the homeless because of lack of funding.
Homelessness has so permeated the American landscape that it may seem that the social conundrum has always been a part of our society. However, homelessness is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Until the 1980s, there was not widespread homelessness in America. But tonight, nearly 700,000 people will experience homelessness across the country, despite a $2 billion dollar a year infrastructure designed to deal with the problem.
So, is the “Opening Doors” plan working, thus far? No! The plan is not working because since 2008, homelessness has increased by 830,000 people. Will homelessness ever be abolished? Probably not!
Homelessness will always be in existence, however, there are solutions to significantly reduce these statistics and help the homeless get on their feet again.
We need to provide more resources for the homeless, such as job...
References: Facts and figures: The homeless. (2009, June 26). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/526/homeless-facts.html
Momeni, J.A. (1990, March). Homelessness in the United States: Data and issues. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated.
National Alliance to End Homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/?gclid=CMiy2J_8xaQCFQ8E5QodrXkIjA
National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2013, June 22). National alliance to end homelessness responds to the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/3126
National coalition for the homeless. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhomeless.org/advocacy/nationalstrategicplan.html
Weathersbee, T. (2010, July 20). Increase in elderly is another sign of poverty. The Star Ledger News Paper. Retrieved from http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/401026/tonyaa-weathersbee/2010-07-20/increase-elderly-homeless-another-sign-poverty
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