Homelessness Essay

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Throughout the entire history of human civilization, the prevalence of homelessness has been a challenge to every nation.  It might be depressing to learn that no countries today have eradicated homelessness, but the human race is never stopped from trying harder than before to tackle this prolonged issue. As the two leading economic powers, America and China have to face the challenge of reducing homelessness. According to a report written by Nation Coalition for the Homeless, “a study done by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty which states that approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year” in America alone (National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009). The number of homeless people appears to be even more astonishing in China, surpassing 200 million according to a rough estimate. Due to the frustrating condition, both counties have been trying to improve their homeless service systems as their economy keeps growing. This paper intends to compare the Chinese homeless facilities against their counterparts in America from various aspects, including the major reasons leading to high homelessness rates, qualifications needed to receive assistance in a shelter, services provided in the shelters, and new solutions proposed to further tackle this significant societal issue. The paper also aims at facilitating the shelters in two nations to learn from each other in the hopes of providing the homeless with services of better quality. To reduce homelessness, it is crucial to analyze the deep reasons leading to homelessness. Given that the U.S and China embrace radically different social ideologies, it is plausible to infer that the two counties are confronted with different social and political causes that may lead to homelessness. We start by analyzing the status quo of America’s homelessness, whose causes have changed dramatically throughout the years. Sara. K, a blogger who focuses mainly on the homelessness issue in China and America, asserts that the word “homelessness” is often associated with people having little motivation and many undesirable qualities in the past, “homelessness, often stereotypically connected with drinking, laziness, and drug abuse, conjures up an image of an American that waits for the government to take action for him” (Sara. K). In addition to substance abuse and sloth, it is believed that the “deinstitutionalization of mental patients” in 1960s to 1970s has contributed to the increasing number of homeless people (Weinreb, 10). Today, while substance abuse and mental health problems are still two major contributors to homelessness, new factors causing homelessness have become typical, such as economic adversity, layoffs, prior incarceration, and lack of affordable housing (Weinreb, 10). As a matter of fact, these causes are now gaining increasing magnitude, constituting a great part in the overall homeless population. More accurate statistics drawn from 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors study reveal that the top three causes for homeless people in families are lack of affordable housing, poverty, and unemployment, whereas leading factors causing homelessness for single individuals are substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, and mental illnesses. The recent recession has made the situation for the homeless even worse and whether the economic downturn is still exerting negative effects remains debatable. According to National Alliance to End Homelessness, “without effective intervention, the recession will mean approximately 1.5 million additional Americans will experience homelessness in 2009 and 2010.” As a result of economic decline, the unemployed cannot afford to pay rent; those without a back-up plan therefore lose a permanent residence. The organization also concludes, besides unemployment and lack of adequate support system, “state and local budget problems” might have worsened the situation when...
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