Poverty and Homelessness in the United States

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Poverty and Homelessness in the United States
Poverty in America is a subject that though everybody recognizes is existent, most do not pay attention to very often. In 2010 the poverty line for a family of four was $22,314.00 and 15.1% of Americans were living off of less than that (Tavernise, 2011). While 15.1% is a high number to begin with, the truth is that many more people are living on the verge of homelessness. Countless families are split up every night with children going to a friend’s house or an extended family member’s house to ensure that everyone has somewhere to sleep. These people are called the “hidden homeless” by the Charlotte Observer (Whitesides, 2011). Even more people are either living in tent cities or in their cars all around the United States. The events that lead to homelessness range from drug abuse to being laid off from a career because of a poor economy; but sadly the former makes it seem as if everyone who is homeless is in their situation because of their own faults. Many people who are approached by someone who is homeless or sees them panhandling for money hesitate to offer money because of the discourse that all homeless people are alcoholics and drug abusers. Unfortunately, the truth is that “many adults panhandle on corners for money to pay for a cheap motel room so that their children can have a warm place to sleep for the night” (Whitesides, 2011). Through this essay, the topic of homelessness and poverty in America will be explored by understanding some of the causes that have contributed to poverty throughout history and how the homeless are coping with their situation.

Hundreds of people all around the city of Seattle, Washington are homeless or living in their cars. In Ballard alone, there are an estimated 150 people living in their cars (Thompson, 2011). A new program in January is to begin, opening up church parking lots in Ballard for up to five cars to spend the night somewhere safe. All who want to spend the night in the parking lots must apply and be screened which is a task that the state and city combined granted $30,000 towards (Thompson, 2011). So far, Redeemer’s Lutheran Church has stepped up to host the homeless in cars decided by a unanimous decision in September (Thompson, 2011). While people all across the United States are visibly poor, like those who are living in their cars, many others are suffering just as well with the stress of not knowing whether or not they will have a roof over their head at night. Many of these people are teenagers who either do not have parents who can support them, are too old for foster care, have mental-health issues, or have been evicted from their homes (Whitesides, 2011). These teenagers are ones who go bounce from friend to friend sleeping at their houses every night because they have no other place to go.

The homeless problem is one that is growing worse and worse as the years go on. In 2010 46.2 million people were living below the poverty line which is the highest number in the past 52 years (Tavernise, 2011). Economists say that joblessness is the main cause of poverty in America (Tavernise, 2011). 48 million people between the ages of 18 and 64 did not work even one week of the whole year, which is up three million from 2009 (Tavernise, 2011). While maintaining a job and progressing through a company is hard enough with a college degree, full-time male workers with no college degrees on average have made no progress (Tavernise, 2011). Of the 46.2 million Americans living below the poverty line, 20.5 million are surviving off of less than half of the $22,314.00 poverty line. To save money, many Americans are cutting as many costs as they can in their daily lives. One of these costs, unfortunately, is insurance. The number of uninsured Americans increased by 900,000 to 49.9 million people (Tavernise, 2011). In Gaston County, North Carolina community meetings are held focused on finding ways to help those who are having...
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