Homelessness in America
Introduction to Human Services/ BSHS 302
January 21, 2013
The Pursuit of Happyness portrays the true story of Chris Gardner, homeless man turned businessman. His story has inspired the homeless to take charge of their lives by not letting their past define who they are. Raised by a single mother and having a childhood wrought with poverty, physical, and sexual abuse due to alcoholism, (Gardner, 2006) he found himself faced with the same factors contributing to his homelessness as an adult single parent. This story is all too familiar with the history of homelessness in America. The evolution of this struggle has a large range of social problems and covers a varying demographic of the overall population.
The history of the homeless population
There has been homelessness as long as there have been communities. In the early days of America colonies, those that were able bodied but refused to work were driven out of and forced to “freeze and starve to death” (Baum & Burnes, 1993, p. 94). The American Civil War also made way for runaway slaves that made a break for their freedom to the north. Because there were a large number of slaves without homes, “runaway slaves should be considered an early example of American homelessness” (Johnson, 2008, p. 584). The Civil War also caused many Whites to be without homes and land thus forcing those families to become homeless as well (Johnson, 2008)
With the continuing influx of immigrants, there were sometimes little to no resource help for men who could not find jobs. This began the push for those to seek work out west, thus starting a trend of transient life. They traveled from place to place working either on the railroad as it expanded out west or working fields in the Midwest. Others began making their way out west to try their luck in the gold mines (Martin, 2011). The Great Depression brought about a whole new side of transient
References: Baum, A., & Burnes, D. ( 1993). A nation in denial. 94 Boulder, CO: Westview. Feldman, S. (2003). Reflections on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Community Mental Health Centers Act. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 3, 662-667 Johnson, R.A. (2010, Feb). African Americans and Homelessness: Moving Through History. Journal of Black Studies, 40(4), 583-605 Martin, M.E. (2011). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings,. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc Wright, T. (2000). Resisting homelessness: Global, national and local solutions. Contemporary Sociology, 29(1), 27-43