When living in a large city, it becomes difficult to ignore the seemingly ever-growing issue of homelessness. However the more I have read into the matter, the more I have come to realize that homelessness is not at all a “new” condition. America has had an issue with a homeless population since the early 18th century. This “‘long and rich history’ of homelessness” (Murphy, J., & Tobin, K.) is made even more difficult to gain a grasp on given the unspecific rules as far as classification as “homeless” are concerned. There are a wide range of peoples who are considered “homeless.” Some living in boxes and cars, others in homeless shelters, others entirely in the street.
Although the matter has been evident and present for quite some time now, a recent development is the large increase in the homeless population since the 1980’s. Great efforts are being made now to curb this growth, but something about the past few decades has led to unsettling numbers of homeless individuals. Perhaps however, part of the problem is not solely that there are simply more homeless peoples, but in recent years, the issue is becoming more visible. A large part of this is that there definitely are more homeless people. Shelters and skid row are overflowing and though statistics show a decrease from the 1990’s, the problem still very much exists. One especially depressing part of these statistics is the number of homeless children. With children, the circumstances do not change however and the numbers are not entirely solid. The best researches can come up with are educated estimates at best so there is not a definitively clear picture of how many homeless youths there are in America. However, what researchers do know is that number is quite high. Though “‘there is virtually no aspect of homeless existence that does not aid in the destruction of a person’s well being, whatever age, race, or gender,’ it is especially harmful for children…and unaccompanied youth (Murphy, J., & Tobin, K.).” The rise of children and women panhandling may in part be part of the reason that the problem is more visible as of late than in earlier years.
Many mayors and elected officials have made promises to eradicate their cities and districts of this issue but often they often “regretted their promises to end the crisis quickly and saw it outlive their terms of office (Hambrick, R. S., & Johnson, G. T. ).” Given that there seem to be so many degrees of homelessness, there are also many possible solutions. It is difficult to find a cure-all for an issue with such a wide range of characteristics. This is not to say that solutions have not been explored. One method used in the past has been through political means and the utilization of legislation and housing programs. President Obama’s administration started the Opening Doors program in 2010 to bring an end to all types of homelessness. This was the first initiative of its type and hopefully marks the beginning of many more programs like it to come. (Johnston, M., & Kunkel, L.)
Hambrick, R. S., & Johnson, G. T. (1998). The future of homelessness. Society, 35(6), 28-37.
Johnston, M., & Kunkel, L. (2014). What It Will Take to End Homelessness. World Medical & Health Policy, 6(2), 112-117.
Murphy, J., & Tobin, K. (2014). Homelessness in the U.S.: a historical analysis. American Educational History Journal, 41(1-2), 267+.