Vulnerable Populations

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Vulnerable Populations
Heather A. Lattea
University of Phoenix

Instructor Foster
April 10, 2011
Vulnerable Populations
Vulnerability suggests that, when associated with the general population, some people are more sensitive to certain risk factors that can negatively impact his or her well-being. Vulnerable people are sensitive to risks that originate from economic, physical, social, biological, and genetic factors along with their lifestyle behaviors. Rarely does one factor act in seclusion, the interaction of various risks effects in increasing vulnerability to other factors, which also can negatively impact and individual’s health. Violence (abuse), trauma, chronic, terminal, or mental illness, natural disaster, and presently the risk of terrorism can result in increasing vulnerability. Vulnerable populations may include woman, elderly, refugees, immigrants, chronically mentally ill individuals, victims of abuse, homeless individuals, ECT (Burbank, 2006). This paper will explain how critical thinking is used to identify the causes of the problems for the homeless population, including the nature of the homelessness population, a brief history, the demographics and common clinical issues and intervention strategies, and a discussion of future interventions.

The Nature of the Homelessness Population
Homelessness is a social condition that has no universally agreed upon definition therefore there are many meanings of this word (Martin, 2007). In general, a person is considered to be homeless if he or she lacks a fixed regular address and adequate sleeping arrangements. Homelessness includes people whose primary night-time residence is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter, an institution that provides a temporarily residence, or a public or private place not designated for sleeping; under a bridge or in a park. This definition only addresses those people who are literally homeless; it does not include people living with family or friends, in motels, in automobiles, or substandard housing. According to Martin (2007), “when homelessness is defined using the federal definition there are on average 650,000 individuals who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States” but “when homelessness is defined in a more inclusive manner, homeless estimates jump to about 3.5 million individuals nationally” (The Nature of Homelessness, para. 4). These numbers will continually to change significantly on any given day. Because of this confusion and miscalculations less money is available meaning fewer services provided to the homeless, because government grant money is often directly linked to census numbers,

Most individuals who will or have experienced homelessness have done nothing so on an irregular basis where homelessness occurs in an ongoing cycle of temporary or questionable housing leading to ultimate homelessness because of uncertainty. Determining why an individual becomes homeless in the first place is difficult and most times puzzling. A person can become homeless due to losing job, substance abuse, mental illness, trauma, physical abuse, and many more. These reasons are essential in helping a homeless person get back on his or her feet but how can people help the homeless in a society that is so biased and severely judgmental? This type of bias and judgment influences state support, federal policy makers, and public voting on assistance programs for the homeless.

Martin (2007), states “in general, most people’s attitudes toward the poor and the homeless are negative, and the stigma that has always been associated with poverty seems to increase when the poor become homeless. The reasons for this negative bias are likely related to the public...
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