Each night in the United States, more than 500,000 individuals sleep on the streets. 15% of these individuals are chronically homeless－they’ve not had a permanent home for years and they regularly cycle through hospitals, jails, and other homeless shelters, to lay their heads. In recent years, the U.S. government has tried to address this issue. They have attempted transitioning from “managing Homelessness” to “eradicating Homelessness.”
The government went further by focusing on subgroups, like youths, veterans, and families. Although, this approach succeeded in bringing together new partners and educating the public on what it takes to end homelessness, nevertheless, the joint effort in eradicating homelessness was unproductive. Isn’t that disheartening? Definitely! But you might wonder: Will there be a way out, are there approaches and steps to take to overcome homelessness? Yes!
When thoroughly examined, I’ve discovered that some of the approaches employed by the government are flawed. For example, statistics of homeless individuals were not accurate. An error like this will have no effect on addressing homelessness. But does that mean there is no way out? Certainly no! There are practical, realistic, and modern approaches that will let homeless people get off the street.
Written to provide substantial and cost-effective solutions that can be adopted in the United States, I will explore five remarkable ways to overcome homelessness. It will begin by highlighting each method. Focusing on each method, there will be an elaborate explanation to explain what it means and how it can be executed. Finally, two related questions to the issue of homelessness will be examined.
Five Effective Ways to Overcome Homelessness
Homelessness is indeed a complicated and broad social issue that has its roots deep in the society. It’s been around for quite a while, yet, it has to be stopped! These following methods are great ways to overcome homelessness:
1. Housing: Increase space available to the Homeless.
2. Affordable Housing: Ensure that the space available is affordable.
3. Housing-First Approach: Give attention to health, employment, and others.
4. Social Connection: See everyone as equal.
5. Donations: Donate funds to firms that support programs to bring an end to homelessness.
But how could these be carried out effectively? What is involved in executing them? The next subheadings will pick each point one after the other and elaborate on them; It will explain practical ways to apply these methods to Overcome homelessness.
In eradicating homelessness, housing is bedrock. You could hear experts say: “housing is healthcare.” Truthfully, housing is security and safety. If we are willing to eradicate homelessness, we can’t merely slash the present resource differently; if we do, it will favor one group over the other. In fact, that approach will pit housing against services and housing against shelter. Therefore, a massive national commitment, both private and public, will be required to ensure that housing is made available for everyone. Assuredly, housing is indeed a fundamental human right; without it, it will be hard for people to lead a connected and stable life. Thus, if homelessness will be eradicated, housing is the starting place.
Providing housing would be of great help to homeless individuals. However, ensuring that those housing units are affordable is indeed vital. Affordable housing is a longer-term solution to help overcome homelessness. But what’s needed to accomplish this? Increase the number of affordable housing units. But you might wonder, if adding more affordable housing were that easy, cities like San Francisco and New York would have been transformed than they presently are. Additionally, in regions where developers desire to increase their profit, they will have to charge higher for rent limiting the numbers of affordable housing. Well, what could be done to make this approach effective? It is: Inclusionary Zoning Strategy!
An Inclusionary Zoning Strategy will aid in creating more affordable housing in regions like Maryland, Montgomery County, and others. All new apartments that have more than the specified number of units would have to designate the excess to serve as affordable housing. But will that be without charge? Evidently no! But the advantage would be that it would be priced lower in comparison to the market rate. In a situation like this, developers might transfer the cost of that lost rent to other tenants, which will then increase market-rate rent. In that type of situation, what could be done?
In regions where inclusionary zoning scheme will be mandated, developers should be allowed to build higher; they should be allowed to have denser buildings to make up for the loss. This will increase the number of affordable housing units.
Affordable housing will indeed mark the journey to overcoming homelessness, but the truth is, we can’t rely on that alone. Homeless individuals need to be completely off the street to maintain stability. This is another method to give homeless folks unique access to permanent homes. If that is done, it will enhance their success rate and will help them to win over the inclination to be depressed.
This approach, called the housing-first method, has undergone numerous studies, and results have shown that it is more effective than depending on just buildings or providing more shelters. This approach places homeless people in long-term housing without asking them to rely on a job first.
After settling down in a stable home, they should be given access to varying services like alcohol and drug treatment, job training, and social workers. What is the assurance that this approach will be beneficial in the long run? I’ll take you down the memory lane regarding what happened in Utah many years ago. Utah, through the housing-first scheme, reduced its chronically-homeless situation by 72% within the span of 14 years, from 2005 to 2014. What does that stand to mean? When homeless people can have a roof over their heads, a specific home address, and a place to cook and keep their belongings, it makes so much difference!
The housing-first approach isn’t cramping multiple people in one bedroom and claiming to be helping them. It does not mean that they are given just any place to stay without a genuine service or a clean place to lay their hands. It must be noted that it is not all homeless persons that will survive simply because they have a place to call their home. Some with physical or mental problems might have problems staying off the street after securing accommodation. For others, they might not be able to support themselves without a community to help them out ultimately. When a social worker knocks on a door, at least once in a day to say “hello,” it can surely make a difference!
Therefore, housing is undoubtedly essential, but housing in itself isn’t sufficient. There must be attention to behavioral health, education, health, employment, and other types of support. This will continue to result in stability and disallow the occurrence of homelessness for lots of people. The result of recent research by the Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth has revealed that services are essentially vital and that it is the other half of that equation that can provide stability and halt future homelessness.
Undeniably, health care is a service. Childcare is also a form of service; in fact, transportation is also a form of service too. And those who are provided affordable housing should have access to these services either free or at a subsidized rate. For sure, to address myriad complex challenges that some folks who have sometimes been homeless wrestle with in the United States, services must be included! In addition, the services that will be made available to them must be affordable across the duration of its existence.
Definitely, for homeless persons, a key to an apartment is excellent! The same is true if there are substantial services that are paired with this provision. But is that all? Here is a revealer: I’ve seen several people who moved into their private apartment for the first time in many years, who later wallow in depression, relapses, and loneliness. For some, their condition grew worse that they contemplated suicide, or even desire to navigate their route to streets. Why? That’s where their friends stay; that’s where they have their daily interactions with their “loved ones.” Therefore, depending on the subsidy on housing and supportive service alone would not completely create a human connection. Hence it would not wholly help to overcome homelessness. Therefore, it would be remarkable to pay attention to social inclusion. Thus the United States should actively work to de-stigmatize mental illness, homelessness, the use of the substance, and in fact, poverty.
We should start to see each other as equal beings that are worthy of living happy, connected, and fulfilled lives. Also, everyone should imbibe the idea of thinking “we,” and not thinking of the world in terms of “us” and “them.”
Therefore, the U.S. should develop a strategy for inclusion and social connectedness, which would be an incredible part of ending homelessness. Some of the policies could be organizing seminars and workshops for folks who have been formerly homeless and those who have not, thus creating an avenue for those who have experienced homelessness to relate with one another.
Another incredible approach is ensuring that we learn to say, “Hi.” Smiling or striking a conversation with someone who has experienced homelessness will be great. Instead of being ignored, treated with disdain, they should be treated like “this is where you belong.” Even though the connection you form could be small, it can relax their mind, and they will be seen as someone vital in society. In fact, they will offer help to those who are currently struggling with this condition.
Donation is the final method that will gain my mention of how to overcome homelessness. You can become an advocate. Thus, you will reduce the stigma that surrounds homelessness. It begins by educating both yourself and your family about the issues of homelessness and explaining factors that can lead to homelessness. Contrary to the opinions of some people, homelessness doesn’t occur to dirty or wicked individuals or those who abuse substances. The reality is that homelessness is a situation that can result from so many factors like health issues, relationship breakdown, and loss of a job. Do any of these suggest that you are immune to homelessness? No! No single person is immune to homelessness. And also, if you ask the majority of homeless folks, they want to leave the street too.
Therefore, prepare care packages; this could include necessities that you want to give out to those experiencing homelessness. Doing this will relieve them of their condition; it will enable them to cope with daily survival as they figure their next living situation.
If the government comes today to demand the help of its citizens to overcome homelessness with the application of these methods explained above, will you be willing to offer assistance within your capacity? Will you be ready to make sacrifices, if it requires that? Yes, volunteering will reduce the government’s expenses and will completely ease and solve the situation speedily.
Conclusively, try all you can to donate funds to charities that are in support of programs that will help in overcoming homelessness. Be part of the process and show that you care! By doing all these, the United States as a whole will experience tremendous reduction.
There you go with the practical steps to overcome homelessness in the United States! If these approaches are applied comprehensively, before the end of this decade, there would be a drastic reduction in the number of homeless individuals.
But two questions could likely stream your mind as you were reading those methods. Take, for instance, you might have probably found out that the majority of homeless people often keep pets, so why do they keep a pet if taking care of themselves is difficult? Furthermore, you could also think, “oh! The majority of homeless individuals would have family members, so why can’t they return to them? Do these questions border you? Briefly, I’ll provide the right answers to them; let’s start with the first one.
Why Do Homeless Individuals Keep Pets?
All homeless individuals that keep pets find them to be a source of companionship and fun. Most especially if they wrestle with depression. In line with “Pets of the Homeless,” it maintains that there is a sense of reality and normalcy that stems from merely providing water and food for pets. Also, pets serve as a form of protection for a homeless person. Since life on the streets is susceptible to theft, assault, or even worse, they have to keep these pets close to safeguard them.
Some homeless individuals have narrated how their dogs foster interaction with others and have helped solve boredom or isolation. Although some who experienced homelessness have related that they regularly get insults from strangers who felt they should not own a pet due to their condition. On the flip side, they appreciated those who have praised them, and offered their pet food and said kind word to them.
Do you learn anything from this? Never speak harshly to homeless individuals that keep pets, instead of insulting them offer help, either for their pet or the homeless person. If you do, you will be healing rather than inflicting pain on them. Yes, homeless individuals deserve a pet!
Why can’t they return to their family?
Honestly, it isn’t everyone that has the privilege of a supportive family. For example, a person who is homeless might not even have a family. Is that all? No! Some have family members, but for varying reasons, they can’t return to them. Some might have lost their parents in a ghastly motor accident, and they have no broad extended family they can return to. Some could have left home as a result of an abusive father or mother or even an abusive extended family; thus they felt, it would be safe to be on the streets instead of being at home.
Experiences have also shown that homeless youths, for instance, might have been kicked out of home because they were seeking ways to find their identity. We should care for these and show them sincere and genuine love. Unfortunately, it is not written on any ones face why they are homeless, yet, we must be ready to offer help when we can. You will surely be healing a heart.
Imagine a world without homelessness! Even though we cannot expect a time when everyone will have access to a comfortable apartment in the United States, we can be sure of one thing. What could that be, you might wonder? This is it: With the application of the schemes and strategies examined in this article, we can expect a time when the numbers of those who are without a home will be reduced to the barest minimum. Then, at that time, after the application of these approaches discussed, we can then say we’ve solved homelessness.
I invite you to share your thoughts on solving homelessness in the United States.