GEN 499 General Education Capstone
September 8, 2012
Homelessness is an epidemic that is growing at a rapid pace. Throughout history, homelessness has been a significantly issue but it is now becoming more common. Currently, many people of all ages are experiencing homelessness as the poverty rate is increasing significantly. This paper will describe this issue while focusing on the root causes of homelessness. It will include a literature review of three scholarly sources analyzing the validity of the author’s argument and/or biases. It will describe how academic understanding can influence the social elements and institutions of both local and global communities. I will include a multimedia component in the form of a video that describes homelessness. I will evaluate the relationship to academic knowledge and homelessness and to conclude, it will assess how the principles of active citizenship could impact this issue during the next five to ten years. Homelessness is a devastating social concern that mainly stems from poverty however there are many other contributing factors that can force people onto the streets, which can ultimately lead to chronic homelessness.
Every day homeless people roam the streets while many of us pass by them as if they do not exist. Some are seen pushing grocery carts; some may be sleeping under a tree at a park while others may be holding up signs, drinking a beer, or begging for spare change. Some people choose to be homeless while most others are a larger majority of individuals are homeless due to unfortunate circumstances. The question that begs to be answered is, why? Why are so many people homeless? Before we can answer this question, we must first discover the true definition of homelessness. What does being homeless really mean? Everyone has his or her own definition of what it means to be homeless. Many would say that being homeless is not having a roof over your head, which is true, but being homeless is more complex than one may think. “Homelessness is more than being poor and without a home; homelessness is a condition of disengagement from ordinary society -- from family, friends, neighborhood, church, community. Perhaps most importantly, it is a loss of self” (Baum, A. S., & Burnes, D. W. 1993). In order to uncover why people become homeless, we must first find the root cause.
One of the main causes of homelessness is poverty, which has unfortunately become worse over the years. “In 2012, 46.5 million people were living in poverty in the United States—the largest number in the 54 years the Census has measured poverty” (National Center for Law and Economic Justice n.d.). People in poverty often face homelessness do to the inability to pay for housing and all that is included such as utilities and other living expenses. Many people, especially families, are faced with difficult choices when it comes to how to allocate resources. For example, if ones paycheck is not enough for rent/mortgage and also groceries and/or medical expenses, they must choose what is considered more important. A large majority of these individuals face foreclosure or are forced out of their homes. Many low-income individuals that apply for housing assistance are placed on waiting lists since affordable housing programs are limited. “Excessive waiting lists for public housing mean that people must remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer” (National Center for Law and Economic Justice n.d.). This forces more people onto the streets as shelters become overly crowded. Poverty is the main contributor of homelessness however; there many are other factors that can contribute to this problem.
Loss of employment, underemployment and minimum wage jobs are a huge contributor of homelessness, which is happening more and more mainly due to budget cuts and massive layoffs. “The loss of a job...
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