Lying on the ground in sub-freezing temperatures with only a cardboard box and a blanket to guard against the frozen ground and bitter cold temperatures, a family of four tries to survive through the night. Men, women, and children wait for the morning sun’s polarizing rays to thaw them out. The doors of the food shelter will open soon, providing many with their only meal of the day. This is the setting for thousands of families and hundreds of thousands of single individuals across America’s cities. These frozen, hungry masses are the homeless. Although some non-profit groups try to help the homeless, much more needs to be done because many of the homeless still suffer from a plethora of problems including mental illness, varying degrees of unemployment and increasing numbers of whole families becoming homeless.
Most American citizens have pity when they look at the homeless, but cringe when actually asked for help. Consequently, very few citizens know anything about the homeless or their problems. Nonetheless, American citizens want the problem of homelessness resolved as long as it does not affect their pocketbooks. Help for the homeless is hindered by the myth that stereotypes the homeless as older, alcoholic, single men who would rather steal or beg for money than work for a living. Another excuse many people use is the false belief that people sleeping outdoors on the sidewalks, doorways, and park benches do so by their own choice, as if homelessness were an affirmation of an ideal lifestyle. The epitome of ignorance about the homeless comes from one of our own presidents. “The homeless are homeless, you might say, by choice” – Ronald Reagan (Robertson. Others argue that the homeless should not be helped because they are not worth helping, and even if helped, they would quickly return to that lifestyle. Still others dismiss the homeless as a small problem, stating that the numbers of homeless are lower than what they actually are. The ignorance and misinformation concerning the homeless lifestyle must stop. America must come to terms with these problems and realize that there are many uncontrollable circumstances that can lead to homelessness such as mental illness.
Call To Action Speech Outline Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience to help fight homelessness Central Idea: With more help for the homeless we can better America Attention I. Imagine for a moment that your not in this classroom. A. Instead your outside, but you not walking to class or your dorm, your living there. B. Imagine for a moment that you yourself are homeless. 1. You have no shelter ...
Although the mentally ill have always been a part of the homeless population, they are steadily becoming a greater percentage of the group. Studies funded by the National Institute of mental health have revealed that 20-48% of the homeless are suffering from mental illness that has required hospitalization (Burt 109).
The growing percentage is due to the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill from the mental health system hospitals and health care programs. In the United States, the psychiatric inpatient population declined from over 539,000 in 1955 to 132,000 in 1983 (Glasser 31).
Due to tight budgetary restrictions, mental institutions frequently discharge patients too early and release them directly into shelters and even onto the streets. Mentally ill patients who are discharged before they are capable of supporting themselves suffer greater hardships than most of the other homeless. Due to their limited mental capacity, they are subjected to harsher abuse from both the public and the police; they endure increased rates of malnutrition, sexual victimization, extreme poverty, and social isolationism. Homelessness among the mentally ill is due largely to the early discharge of patients and the lack of adequate services to help provide them with shelter and food while living within the community. The only way to prevent more mentally ill patients from becoming homeless is to demand that the government increase funding to the mental health system. Hence, patients would be able to stay in the hospital until they are able to better support themselves after being discharged.
Counseling has a major emphasis on prevention. Mental health counselors work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Counselors may help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions, substance abuse, family, parenting, marital problems, stress management, self-esteem and aging. Mental health counseling brings a unique approach to the mental health ...
Unemployment is caused by many reasons such as a lack of sufficient job training, poor work skills, physical disability, shifts in industrial sector jobs, and economic recession. Unemployment is the second leading cause of homelessness in America. There are three main classes of unemployed among the homeless: the temporarily unemployed, the part-time or day worker, and the permanently unemployed. The temporarily unemployed are usually caught off-guard by a recent job loss and are thrust into a homeless status through financial complications. They are the cause of the greatest amount of fluctuation in the population of homeless from month to month. Fortunately, these homeless people eventually find permanent jobs and shelter again (Snow 180).
The partially employed are usually low-skilled, uneducated, manual workers who can find only jobs that employ them for a day or so at a time. These day workers often make enough money during the summer months to sufficiently feed themselves but are still unable to afford permanent housing. Like most homeless people without mental health problems, day workers form small social groups to help each other survive. They sometimes band together once or twice a month with enough money to enable a few of them to rent a cheap hotel room for the night in order to relieve themselves from the cruelty of the streets. The partially employed homeless still rely heavily on public shelters during periods of the year when they cannot find work. The final classification, is the permanently unemployed, which includes the physically disabled, a large number of whom are American veterans. Veterans suffer greater setbacks as a result of the combination of their problems, which may include a physical disability, disqualification from veterans’ aid for medical reasons, or an inability to successfully wade through the administrative red tape required to receive federal veterans’ aid. When asked during a survey in the fall of 1985, a surprisingly high proportion of the homeless reported that they had physical conditions that made them unable to work (Rossi 159).
... homeless. For families and individuals struggling to pay rent, a serious illness or disability can push them over the edge into homelessness. ... This might begin with a lost job, reduction of savings to pay for ... Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The elimination and cut backs of public mental hospitals resulted in the building of Community ...
The physically disabled rely heavier than most on government aid and community support. Homelessness as a result of unemployment is the last resort for many who have tried to receive help, but failed in doing so. Help received through relatives, community groups, and state aid is not enough. The government and community need to work together to set up community job training programs and job networks to help the homeless get jobs. This will lead to permanent housing for the homeless and will alleviate many of the hardships and inconveniences they face everyday.
An entirely homeless family is the worst type of homelessness. When a family loses it’s source of income and has no savings or relatives to fall back on, mounting bills and ruthless landlords can cause a family to become homeless. The number of families that are homeless is deceptively larger than most Americans know. According to a local Atlanta shelter’s informational packet, “in the next few years alone, the number of homeless families in the metro area will increase 25% annually” (Atlanta Union Mission information packet).
There are very few shelters that can accommodate families; most shelters have strict guidelines separating individuals according to gender. This compounds the impact of homelessness upon the families because they are separated while utilizing these facilities. The impact of homelessness on the children is lifelong. They are thrust from whatever security they had into an environment that is hostile, intimidating, and cruel (McGeady).
The absence of recreational opportunities and day activities for the children makes them even more fearful and withdrawn. Many government programs that could help families have cut off funding, such as the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program. Without adequate help, families are finding it increasingly difficult to rebound from their homeless status. Homeless families need to be given priority in assistance because homelessness has a most profound effect on the family unit. One solution would be to reform the shelters and community organizations so they can accommodate families. Another solution would be for the government to re-enact funding that was cut which specifically helped out homeless families.
It's Illegal to be Homeless Homelessness has been a constant presence in American cities, towns, and rural areas for many years and a major problem in our society. During the recession of 1981-82 it was identified as a national issue for the first time since the Great Depression. Since the early 1980 s, homelessness has been a regular focus of media interest and a topic of policy debate. The ...
The subject of homelessness is taboo in the national media. Most American citizens have the wrong impression of the homeless due to lack of information, they do not see the struggles going on every day just for survival. How can citizens that live in their heated homes having all of the comforts that are taken for granted such as lights, water, indoor plumbing, and abundant food allow another human being to live in malnutrition on the streets of the city with a minimum of medical care and financial help? Ignorance concerning the problems of homelessness cause it to grow. Local groups need to pressure the media to inform the public about the homeless problem. In this manner, there can be increased financial support from the community, and pressure can be put on the state and federal legislatures to adopt new homeless programs.
Burt, Martha R. Over the Edge: The Growth of homelessness in the 1980’s. New York:
Russell Sage Foundation, 1992.
Glasser, Irene. Homelessness in Global Perspective. New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1994.
Jencks, Christopher. The Homeless. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1994.
McGeady, Sister Mary Rose. Covenant House. Online. Internet. Date of access, February 17, 1996. covenanthouse.org.
Robertson, Marjorie J., and Milton Greenblatt. Homelessness: A National Perspective. New York: Plenum Press, 1992
Rossi, Peter H. Down and Out in America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
Smith, Vince. The Atlanta Union Mission Informational Packet. Atlanta, 1996.
Snow, David A., and Leon Anderson. Down on Their Luck: A Study of Homeless Street People. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.