Homelessness in America
According to Streetwise of Street News Services (2010), the first reported instances of homelessness dates as far back as 1640, in some of the larger cities in the original 13 colonies. At this time, there were wars being fought between settlers and Native Americans, and people were left with no shelter in both sides (Street News Service, 2010). Later, the industrial revolution caused more homelessness, industrial accidents left many former hard-working families with a dead provider, or with severe disabilities, and then the economy entered a recession in the same time period (Street News Service, 2010). Wars always left a large number of veterans homeless. Later, in 1927, there was an astronomical flood along the Mississippi River, across multiple state, leaving about 1.3 million people without a home (Street News Service, 2010). Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, the Asian tsunami in 2004, and the earthquake early this year in Japan are still a major cause of homelessness. One of the first times the federal government stepped in to help deal with homelessness was during the Great Depression, and did just this when they instituted the Federal Transient Service, which funded work training programs, shelters, health centers, housing, and work camps from 1933 to 1936 (Street News Service, 2010). This program was shut down in 1936 when the Roosevelt administration decided to fund Social Security (Street News Service, 2010). Later, as the National Coalition for the Homeless reports, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is one of the only major federal legislation in response to homelessness, and it’s been amended four times since its original introduction (National Coalition for the Homeless, McKinney-Vento Act, 2006). The McKinney-Vento Act has nine different titles, each with various programs and goals, such as providing a specific definition of homelessness, authorizing various programs, and delegating what government agency will be in charge of running said programs (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). This act has been amended four times since being signed into law in 1987, in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994. The amendments in 1988 were relatively minor, and added a few additional places where funds from this act could be distributed (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). In 1990, the amendments changed far more of the act than with previous amendments, and many new programs were created, including Shelter Plus Care program (providing assistance to those with disabilities and addictions), and the Community Mental Health Services was amended and given a new name, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). The amendments in 1992 both expanded and modified Title IV, which included several programs that were overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to include the creation of “safe havens”, which are very low-cost shelters available to people who do not wish to utilize other services, and the Rural Homeless Housing Assistance grant program (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). The most recent amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act took place in 1994, and these amendments focused on Education of the Homeless Children and Youth program, and the Surplus Property program (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). These amendments allowed local educational administrators a more flexible way to use their funding, and empowered homeless parents to have a voice when it came to their child’s education and placement (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). The McKinney-Vento Act is not something that is scheduled to end, but must be re-authorized every year when the budget is analyzed (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006). Homelessness is a devastating problem that can have a multitude of causes. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless,...
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