Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 676
The homeless are sometimes considered as undeserving of support; they are frequently stigmatized as being mentally ill, out of control, and are viewed by some as personally responsible for their situation.
The above quote highlights the burdens faced by the homeless: many are consumed by the challenges of survival. While anti-vagrancy laws aid businesses (and by extension, economic growth), the homeless still face the prospect of hunger, poor health, and destitution. Many panhandle because this is the only way they can obtain money to purchase food and personal necessities. Thus, the challenges faced by both the homeless and the public must be addressed.
To solve the problem, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty recommends that cities invest in increasing the availability of affordable housing, work training, and social services for the homeless. The United States Department of Health and Human Services also highlights how Medicaid can be used to help the homeless access medical care, social support, and behavioral health services. Additionally, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also provides housing assistance for low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly.
The remaining 10% were those who were chronically homeless (and were typically older, mentally ill, disabled). Subsequent research has shown that this group uses more than half the resources in the homelessness service delivery system, such as shelters, emergency care, mental health services and the criminal justice system.
Yet, while today's homeless people are more visible to researchers and policy makers than ever before, they are still difficult to track. Thus, the actual number of homeless in the United States is difficult to quantify. Because so many homeless people move from city to city or state-to-state, lack identification, and live in hidden cities, it is hard for researchers to measure the actual extent of people who are homeless.
The above quotes exemplify the complexity of the problem of homelessness. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, approximately 33% of the homeless are people who suffer from serious mental illnesses. Additionally, previously hospitalized individuals are 3 times more likely to get their daily sustenance from city trash bins, so any laws or public initiatives aimed at combating homelessness must take into account the needs of the mentally ill. Solutions should include better access to mental health services, community support structures, employment training and opportunities, and then money management training.
On the other hand, homelessness is a complex issue. Homeless populations are difficult to track: many don't carry identification and live a nomadic lifestyle. Some lack the skills or ability to access already available social support services. Please refer to the link below for a unique perspective on homelessness in Denmark.
Wages have remained low in many service sector jobs, like housekeeping, janitorial services, and fast food industries low, while the cost of living has increased exponentially (Moore, Sink & Hoban-Moore, 1988). Declining wages have in part been a consequence of reduced bargaining power among unionized workers; a decline in manufacturing jobs and the corresponding expansion of lower-paying service-sector employment; globalization; and an increase in temporary and part-time employment.
The economy plays a major part in solving the issue of homelessness. A poor economy with low wages in the service sector and declining manufacturing jobs increases the likelihood of homelessness.
Many solutions have since been proposed and implemented to tackle these challenges. For example, minimum wage increases have been enacted in major American cities. According to the Washington Post, the minimum wage in California is slated to rise to $15 by 2022. Some fast food chains are increasing hourly wages even more. Meanwhile, minimum wages are set to increase to $15 by the end of 2019 in New York City. In 2019, 18 states began the year with higher minimum wages. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, they are Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Washington.
Meanwhile, new government initiatives and laws continue to increase the number of manufacturing jobs. According to Market Watch, manufacturing has soared and is seeing its best gains in 30 years.