Homeless in the United States
Homeless is a term that refers to people without a permanent place to live. A person may be homeless for a number of reasons, including a job loss, financial problems, or a physical illness. Sometimes, a person can be homeless for only a short time.
In popular culture, homelessness is often portrayed in movies or television shows. Examples include Modern Times (1936), Cathy Come Home ( 1966) and God Bless the Child ( 1988).
Some communities have developed social movements that focus on the problems of homelessness, such as the homeless community in New York City. These movements aim to reduce the incidence of homelessness through various initiatives that provide assistance to homeless individuals and their families.
The homeless population in the United States consists of a variety of subgroups, with different characteristics and needs. These groups include individual adults, families with children, youths, the elderly and those in rural areas.
Adults are the largest group of the homeless, although they represent only a small proportion of the general population. They also have a relatively high rate of mental health issues and substance abuse.
Moreover, they are a particularly vulnerable group, as they can often be victims of violence and neglect. In addition, they are frequently denied the right to adequate housing and access to public services.
A number of laws and regulations have been enacted in some countries, regulating the conditions of persons experiencing homelessness. For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of persons in a situation of homelessness. In addition, States must ensure that persons in a situation of homelessness are entitled to an adequate and affordable housing and to privacy.
Families with children are the fastest growing subgroup of the homeless. They represent almost one-fourth of the overall homeless population in the United States and have a wide range of needs, including mental health support.
The elderly, who make up about 17% of the homeless population, are a particularly vulnerable segment. They have complex, long-term medical problems and are often unable to find housing that is affordable or suitable for their age.
Other types of persons experiencing homelessness can be classified into the following categories: “hidden homeless,” “sheltered homeless,” and “unsheltered homeless.” These are the most difficult groups to identify, as they are often living in temporary or transitional housing.
During these periods of instability, they may move from one emergency shelter to another, or stay in unsuitable locations such as streets or parks. They are also often subject to discrimination based on their homelessness status and lack of official address.
As a result, the conditions of their lives often deteriorate further. Some of these people become dependent on public services, such as healthcare, and may require long-term institutionalization.
While many of the issues facing the homeless are caused by their own behavior or actions, others can be attributed to society’s response to these situations. Some of these factors include:
A growing number of cities have introduced a program known as Housing First, which aims to help people in homeless situations get into permanent housing as quickly as possible. While this approach does not address the underlying problems that contribute to homelessness, it seems to be a good start toward improving the quality of life for homeless individuals.