Homeless Research Paper

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Homeless: Who Are They?
In 2005, NCH (National Coalition for the Homeless) estimated 3.5 million people experience homelessness in the US every year (NCH,1). But what is homelessness? Jim Baumohl, a noted author, explained in Homelessness in America, the most common definition of homelessness used by researchers is the “absence of belonging to a specific place or to people” (NCH, 3). However, there is no set definition, due to the variety of living conditions a homeless person encounters, and the opinions of the researchers. As Baumohl pointed out, “homelessness is but the latest of many research topics in which the population of interest is not clearly defined” (NCH, 15).

Even though there is no clear definition of the homeless, the questions still linger, who are they? Though the image of the homeless is viewed in a negative, there are many homeless persons who are struggling to receive help. Alcoholics, drug addicts, sexual abusers, and gang members have cast an image on homelessness that scares people away from helping. Mary Ellen Hombs, Deputy Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, wrote, “At the beginning of the decade the prevailing stereotype of a homeless person was that of a middle-aged, white male alcoholic…” (Hombs, 4). This description is a common view of a homeless man, however, the nation does not see the other minorities crying for help. Homeless persons are growing in numbers in the areas of mentally ill, children, and families. Society is unaware of the problems many of these people are facing, due to the negative image created. These groups go unnoticed and rarely receive the attention and help they need to survive. David Levinson, a noted cultural anthropologist, remarked in Encyclopedia of Homelessness, “Alice Solenberger classified homeless society in her book as ‘homeless old men, chronic beggars, wanderers, and tramps’” (Encyclopedia, 475).

One of the most common-viewed images of a homeless citizen is of an...
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