The homeless population dates back many centuries. Over time the homeless population has gone from single adults to single parent families, adolescents, and the elderly. As times change so do the circumstances behind the reasons for homelessness. Many believe this is a choice for those without shelter and this is not true. Many of the persons without a home is because of an under lying reason such as loss of job, recessions, runaways, mental illness and domestic violence. Most individuals or families do not choose to be without the necessities of life. There are usually very good reasons for them to have to survive on the streets or in shelters that limit their abilities daily. Some of the homeless populations do not even realize there is assistance available to them; many have never received any kind of public assistance. There is no way to obtain an exact count on the homeless population; there are many who prefer to live on the streets, instead of seeking shelter.
Without an exact count of how many people are homeless, it is hard to determine what financial expense it would take to abolish homelessness. In the Middle Ages and Twentieth century, most homeless persons were men who would travel around looking for work. In this time, providing assistance to these men was discouraged. The assistance was available for local residence that had come upon hard times, not for people passing through. During these times it was the consensus, these people had nothing due to complete laziness and their own choice. Even though these men where in search of work; the people of the towns had no sympathy for them. Some of these men had mental illnesses or were substance abusers. Those who received help from their own towns were labeled so others knew they were receiving assistance of some kind. Also many became slaves of a sort for land owners.
The Great Depression is the time when the homeless population started to transition from men to families. Times were hard with layoffs and loss of housing many were on the streets in search of food and shelter. This was the eye opener for the public; people began to realize that homelessness was not a choice which could be a due to circumstances beyond ones control. These families did not choose to be on the street, and they worked hard to support their families. The entire United States was affected by the Great Depression, so many were without the essentials of the life they were used to living. When everyone is affected, people realize there are times when choice is not the issue. Once the Depression error was over, the homeless profile returned to primarily men. Today the profile has changed yet again; today it is a combination of single parent families, women, adolescents, men, and the elderly. The new error has shown families have also fallen victim to homelessness with the foreclosures families have no place to go.
The homeless experience issues with society such as others seeing them as beggars, smelly, dirty, or drug addicts. Shelters are available for many, not all homeless people will use the resources of a shelter due to trust issues many of them have. The life on the streets is not a pleasant experience for any of the unfortunate people who have to go through it. Many do not realize they can receive help from the state and government resources available. The stress and circumstances from being homeless can cause many illnesses to include health and mental issues. Becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol are part of the lifestyle also. For many, seeking medical attention is just not a priority. Being without a stable home many have no chance to bath or perform any sort of hygiene for themselves (Phelan, link, Moore, & Stueve, 1997). As time passes this is just not a necessity, survival is the main drive behind how people tend to think when without the basics like food and water.
Many of the homeless; fall victims to other homeless people. Having to endure sexual acts for survival, suffering from mental illness (without any medication), feeling alone and desperate, being beaten and mistreated daily, and becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs to survive. After the war many veterans having mental issues such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) have topped the about fifty percent of the homeless population. The younger populations of the homeless are runaways, they were abused in their homes or foster care. Adolescents tend to fall victim to older versions of themselves, forced to commit sexual acts for money to buy food or drugs. Even the young adults show a faith that God will get them through their rough times. Single parent families are mostly single mothers who have left an abusive spouse. Single parent families find it hard to function in a shelter setting; where it is required that everyone leaves the shelter during the day. Single parent families strive for a better life for their children, they believe that God will help them if they keep faith and try to help themselves.
Single parent families as well as families show strong will and determination to make a better life for their children’s sake, Reports show mothers were also committed to helping others in a time of need, regardless of their own situation (Montgomery, 1994).The elderly have less of a chance regaining the lives they once had due to age, and working ability. Many programs are available to help the homeless, without the exact count of those in need it is hard to determine the financial cost of helping everyone that is homeless. Our country has many services available being active in presenting those in need is the key. With the social welfare system families qualify for help with a food, medical, and TANF (temporary assistants to needy families), which is money provided for necessities. Veteran Affairs and human service workers work together to provide assistance to Veterans that have become victims of PTSD or other mental issues. Social workers work closely with homeless children and parents to get the help they need, while still fulfilling the educational needs of the children required to be successful in life. With shelters allowing only a three-month stay, for those in need.
Switching schools every few months is a difficult adjustment for homeless children. With the assistance of a social worker, the families can obtain the necessary financial assistance to obtain subsidized housing for a more stable upbringing. Education is very important for our youth; we want the next generation to be a valuable asset to the community in which they live. Awareness of the needs homeless people face is vital to our society. Learning to help those less fortunate should be something we instill in the children of today to make the future a better place for all. Instead of mistreating those in need we need to educate those who have what they need.
Guidance and assistance for the homeless and building trust with them will help stabilize the homeless population. Promoting programs to counsel those in need, making sure there are plenty of shelters with caring staff to care for them in times of need, will show the homeless the community cares and is willing to provide help for them. Drug and alcohol counseling along with mental health counseling should be readily available to all shelters. Provide medical care, for the unfortunate with chronic illnesses. Making clinics easily accessible to everyone and being able to work with people who do not attend the shelters and soup kitchens will dramatically improve the care given to the homeless. Going out into the streets and offering assistance on a continual basis. There will always be a homeless population, but we can diminish the numbers daily.