Homelessness Paper

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Homelessness is defined as “An Individual who lacks a fixed regular and adequate nighttime residence”, (Burt, 1989, p.17). Have you ever stopped to wonder how many people are Homeless? Who are most at risk to fall into this situation? I highly doubt it. While most people really do not care and ignore homeless people, others look at them as motivation, people whom they do not want to become. Another question that comes to mind is, how do homeless people survive and what are their legal rights. What causes people to become Homeless is it a choice or a failure of society? Do homeless individual have the same perspective on life and show the same emotions as ordinary people do. What can we do to help stop homelessness? These are the topics that I will be briefly addressing in my paper.

The study of homelessness for the past couple of years has been very complex and difficult to come by. From what I learned during this research, most of the statistics on homeless people are sometimes inaccurate. Researchers use different methods to measure homelessness. One method attempts to count all the people who are literally homeless on a given day or during a given week, this is called point-in-time counts. While the second method examines the number of people who are homeless over a given period of time, this is called (period prevalence counts). Point-in-time studies give a snap-shot picture of homelessness; they only count those individuals who are homeless at a particular time. Period prevalence addresses the problem of homelessness more accurately, because some of these people will eventually find housing and escape homelessness making it a temporary condition. There is another issue involved in counting the number of homeless people in America. Many homeless people will not be counted because they are not in places where researchers can find them. These groups of people are often referred to as “the unsheltered or hidden homeless”, (Burt, 1989 p.18). These people stayed in automobiles (59.2%), camp grounds, boxes, caves or boxcars (24.6%). This would state that homeless counts would miss a vast majority of people and give false information. A perfect example of this would be Sociologist Peter Rossi who came under attack by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, for having researched the homeless population far below the Coalition’s estimate. His response to this was “In the short term, good social research will often be greeted as a betrayal of one or another side to a particular controversy”, (Schaefer, 2004, p.41). In a study made by the Urban Institute 2000, stated that approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 of which were children are likely to experience homelessness in a given point in time.

The homeless population is a diverse group. “Over the past year, over 3 million men, women and children were homeless”, (nlchp.org, p. 1). When I first looked at the number I could not believe my eyes, but in fact they were real. Among the homeless, 41% are single men, 14% are single women, 5% are unaccompanied children, 40% are families with children, 67% are single parent families, 23% mentally disabled, 10% veterans, 50% African Americans, 35% White, 12% Hispanic, 2% Native Americans and the list goes on. In many cases a person does not choose to be homeless, it is the decisions that they make throughout life or unpleasant situations that lead to becoming homeless. An example I can share would be a relative of mine who experienced being homeless at a very young age. My dear cousin, who is now 22, was forced to leave her household at the age of 13 with her mother. She begins by telling me that, it all started when her parents got divorced. She stated that “I felt lonely and scared, even though I had my mother I was not used to living or sleeping outside of my household”, (Machado, 2005). Since her mother could not support themselves financially, she started to fall behind on her various bills. This...
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