According to The Department of Housing and Urban Development is able to have, data show that homelessness is a serious problem “requires a count in communities that receive federal funding for homelessness… In January 2018, 553,000 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. Of that number, 180,413 were people in families, and 372,417 were individuals.” Hence, homelessness is a widespread problem in the United States that many have been struggling to beat for years. Prior to 2018 John Miaschi of worldatlas.com claims that “a 2017 report found out there are 553,742 homeless Americans approximately 76,500 people including 15,000 families were homeless”.
Although the numbers might be different within a year, homelessness is still a difficult problem that many have tried to get rid of since the Great Depression. However, there are possible solutions that could end homelessness or at least reduce it to a smaller percentage; for example, increase housing programs, better health care, better financial support.
Consequently, finding affordable housing is arguably one of the main if not the issue for homelessness in America.
Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress.org says “thanks to a series of events but most notably the gutting of affordable housing, the country has experienced mass homelessness since the Great Depression” the fact that homelessness is still a huge issue for the country after decades of struggles is unacceptable. Another, cause for homelessness is not having enough financial support to those who are need of immediate help. Thus, The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans claims that “veterans are at high-risk of homelessness due to extremely low or no income, dismal living conditions in cheap hotels which are overcrowded housing, and the lack of access to health care”.
Additionally, the condition of the economy right now makes it extremely harder for people living in poverty to improve their living situations compared to someone who is in the middle class. Lastly, the third cause of homelessness has to do with people being mentally ill. For example, Tanya J. Peterson of Healthyplace.com states that “Mental illness and homelessness can be interrelated. In “The Homeless Mentally Ill”, an article appearing in the Harvard Mental Health Letter (2005), the author asserts that nearly a third of all homeless people in the U.S. have a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, depression)”. Mental illness can either be the cause of homelessness or the result of people becoming homeless due to not being able to be sociable or keep a job.
Henceforth, the benefits of ending homelessness or at least reducing the number of homeless people would clean up the streets making them less crowded and cleaner for people to used them in a safely manner. According to the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) “ending homelessness improves lives, strengthens the health and well-being of communities and could reduce costs”. When, people are assisted back into a safe home their mental health and physical health could improve; in which, finding employment or education has a high probability of success once they’re back on their feet. Another benefit, for ending homelessness is that the costs of services to keep homeless people safe and alive (emergency room, hospitals, police) could cost less if there were more homes available to the homeless. Carolyn Gonzales of Meidcalxpress.com says the “University of New Mexico Institute for Social Research conducted a study on the cost and benefits of housing the homeless in Albuquerque, the results reveal that it costs less to house them instead of living the streets”. Therefore, after one year of being housed the costs was 31.6% less than of the previous year totaling the save of $615,920.49. Thus, people become healthier and more stable in a safe home; in which, reduces cost of frequent admissions, and housing the homeless can reduce the burden on jails and community services.
Notably, there has been a lot of ideas and solutions to ending homelessness over the years from different people with their own point of view. Recently, according to a fact sheet by the Federal Information & News Dispatch White House Press Release on Nov 11, 2015 the Obama Administration wanted to improve homeless veterans to which they could earn benefits; hence, over the past years more veterans are receiving health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) than before. “The Administration was focusing on five different pillars that they believe could end homelessness in the country by changing how health care is distributed to veterans, making sure they get the benefits they need, having a more aggressive plan to fight homelessness, improving the economy opportunities for veterans landing jobs and finding affordable housing, and having enough resources and funding they deserve”. These five pillars are strong positive goals set by the Administration that is not impossible to accomplish but will take an enormous amount of time and effort.
Another solution that a political person tried, was to find stable housing to help homeless people get off the streets in the city. The Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc, Washington released a congressional document stating that U.S. Senator Patty Murray has proposed an idea and the outcome was very positive. “U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Housing Appropriations Subcommittee and a senior member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, announced new resources to help homeless veterans secure stable housing. Therefore, Washington State will receive 335 housing vouchers that will be equally distributed to 11 different housing authorities in the state, which are used to cover rent in private housing and project based”. According to Murray, “these vouchers are a huge boost in the effort to end homelessness among veterans in our state. Each one of these vouchers represents a step toward finding a permanent home for someone who sacrificed for our nation but is struggling to find stable housing”. These two solutions although being from a political point of view of the situation is only a fraction of how many different proposals have been suggested both organizations and other projects have tried, but have never been either started or did not work in the way they thought it would.
Ending homelessness for people who have the most complex needs in communities across the country, including people with disabilities that has the most experience being homeless can be stopped by following solutions that will have an impact on the numbers of homelessness. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) proposed 10 strategies to end chronic homelessness. “We know the solution (supportive housing) and have seen it work across the country. However, ending chronic homelessness takes political will, leadership, collaboration, and coordination among multiple state and local programs to align resources”. For example, strategy number three is to ramp up out-reach and in-reach engagements efforts especially for law enforcements being a critical component of being a coordinated way to help with homelessness by making sure they get treated or giving them information about shelters nearby and what kind of programs they offer.
Notably, three key things that will help law enforcement and homeless services to help homeless people are to engage in cross-training, coordinate outreach and engagement, and form a crisis intervention team. In Broward County, Florida a project called homelessness 101 was created by police to reinforce the police department’s policy on homeless to help raise the awareness and causes of homelessness to address effective techniques. Yet, the Police-Homelessness Outreach Program (P-HOP) in Ramsey County, Minnesota put outreach workers and police officers together so they can respond to different situations involving homeless people having difficulties getting of the streets. Also, the Memphis, Tennessee Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a unit specialized to deal with crisis people with mental illnesses. The University of Tennessee studies report that the CIT has decreased the arrest rates of people who are mentally ill. That is an impressive result from just a program in one state. Henceforth, this may address some if not all causes to homelessness some positives would be having a group of people ready to deal with situations that involve homeless people and reducing the numbers significantly, but some negatives could be that there isn’t enough funding or resources for each state to have a unit.
Another solution that could help with ending homelessness is to focus back on a previous proposal called the National Housing Trust Fund created by Congress in 2008. According to Bryce Covert of ThinkProgress.org Rachel Myers who’s an executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance suggest that proposal could at least make one million homes affordable. “It was never funded, so the mechanism exists, but we never put money into it, but if funded could create upward to one million affordable homes over 10 years” says Myers. For example, the United for Homes campaign came up with an idea to modify the deduction of mortgage interest; in which, by and large benefits the wealthy. Thus, cutting about $500,000 and converting the deduction by 15% of a non-refundable tax credit could free up about $200 billion revenue over the next ten years to create affordable housing to homeless people. Myers also claims that “there’s a lot of bipartisan recognition providing that housing subsidy to people who aren’t struggling to afford housing may not be the best use”.
This solution may only approximately create one million houses available for homeless people; however, considering there’s probably more than a million homeless people this solution would make a gigantic impact to reducing homelessness as well as being the biggest proposal to have an overwhelming positive outcome as a result. Hence, some of the pros for this solution would be cleaning up the streets of people struggling below the poverty line. In hindsight improve the economy by saving money that can be used for other resources such as covering hospital bills/health care assistance. Also, those who can afford to live in a house may find a stable job to keep themselves occupied and continue paying rent. However, there can be some negatives to this solution; for example, that means something else being funded by Congress needs to be deducted so that Congress can cover some expenses that might come up during the process. Yet, considering that this solution needs to be looked over by a specific group or an individual person adds another thing to their plate that they need to focus on and put their time and effort into it making sure that everything is running smoothly. Enable to do that someone or someone’s needs to volunteer or be extremely committed to taking over such a big responsibility and be accountable for the decisions they make.
Certainly, homelessness is a horrible thing to see across the United States having to witness people living in the streets in un-sanitary environments due to many different difficult reasons is such an awful experience. The reason that the first solution will produce positive outcomes that can benefit ending homelessness is there will be a well-organized structure (created by police departments and facilitates) placed on how to deal with handling homeless and mentally ill people who are in dire need of help. Also, forming a healthy relationship foundation between people who up-hold the law and their communities making it a safer place for those living in the area to help people who are below the poverty line. Therefore, solution two (National Housing Trust Fund) sounds like something that is the next big step forward to handling homelessness in one swoop. Although, it can take up to 10 years to having significant results that possibility will heavily reduce homelessness country wide specifically major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco. Once homelessness is controlled in big cities then handling smaller places will become easier for governors, mayors, and local leaders to identify where and what is causing people to become homeless and find other positive outcomes for them. Overall, these solutions are two possible proposals the can help fight against homelessness; in due time, theoretically, the amount of money spent on all the programs and projects throughout the country for homeless people could have costs less if people were more than committed to ending homelessness.