April 29, 2013
Homelessness: The Effects of Both Sides
C.S. Lewis, a famous British writer once said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Virtues like generosity, hope, and justice are merely words without courage. Many people will come to crossroads where they face difficult decisions they must make; courage must be the core involvement for executing any task. There are no restraints within us when we all have to face decisions, choices, and obstacles – how we deal with those situations and people enable us to find harmony with one another and balance in life. We differentiate the human race through social groups of all kinds; from the poor, middle class to upper class, elderly, youths, disabled, and the least mentioned – the homeless. Why is it that homeless people are considered outcasts and other social groups feel threatened by those on the street even when they look exactly like us? They are no different than how we were created; only their lifestyle and choices separate us from them. The problem arises not as the homeless individuals, but as the condition itself – homelessness is a diverse social issue that needs to be understood in its entirety. Homelessness is a real phenomenon in contemporary America that causes numerous negative effects on the homeless population and the community it affects.
Throughout our lives we might have encountered or experienced some form of homelessness within the community. However, the most compelling issue rises in what actually constitutes as homelessness. What qualifies as homelessness and when are they actually considered homeless? In the article, Braving the Streets, Glasser and Bridgman have a substantial belief that homeless is more than what the mainstream media and politics define. “Homelessness needs to be understood as a condition of risk and not only the lack of shelter” (Bridgman, Glasser, Christian 292). They broadened their definition of homelessness as being “at risk of lack of shelter, whether a family actually [is] living on the street, or a group of street youths [who are] sharing [a] living space in decayed rental housing” (292). We typically consider the homeless as just without homes and maybe even more lightly defined than the broad spectrum Glasser and Bridgman discussed in their article. It is difficult to completely understand the full extent of homelessness and how it proves to be a much larger and complicated problem than we believe. As we come to understand homelessness as a complex issue, we can start to break down the components of homelessness and address it at face value. In contemporary America, homelessness is consistently being shown in rising numbers throughout the years. According to statistics from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the surprising numbers reflect the homeless population in the United States today:
There are 633,782 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Of that number, 239,403 are people in families, 394,379 are individuals. Sixteen percent of the homeless population are considered chronically homeless [meaning they have been homeless for over a year or have a disability]. [Lastly], about thirteen percent of homeless adults – 62,619 are veterans (Endhomelessness.org).
These numbers are submitted every other January and fluctuate throughout the year. Specifically, just in California alone there is more homeless population than the any other place in the United States. Within Los Angeles County, “there are more homeless people – estimated 73,000 on any given night – than any other metropolis in the country” (Garrison, Los Angeles Times). Even though these numbers constantly change, the same universal problem of homelessness still exists. The rise in homelessness has made this phenomenon a serious problem. An editor from Gothamist, an online New York City informative blog, argues that the rise...
Bibliography: Bridgman, Rae, Irene Glasser, and Douglass Drozdow-St Christian. "[Braving the Street:
The Anthropology of Homelessness]."Anthropologica 43.2 (2001): 292-294. ProQuest. Web
Fischer, Sean N., et al. "Homelessness, Mental Illness, and Criminal Activity:
Examining Patterns Over Time." American Journal of Community Psychology 42.3-4 (2008): 251-265. ProQuest. Web
Shelton, Katherine H., PhD., et al. "Risk Factors for Homelessness: Evidence from a
Population-Based Study." Psychiatric Services 60.4 (2009): 465-472
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