In David A. Snow’s book, Down on their Luck depicts the lives and horrors of homeless people in Austin, Texas. Homelessness is a crisis that has had an impact in our lives. Many people think that homeless people are those who are the mentally ill that are a threat to society, however, that is not the case. Majority of people who are victims of homelessness are those who have been pushed out of their homes, victims of environment catastrophes, the elderly, runaways, and unemployed individuals who are forced to move out because they can’t pay rent. Some even face homelessness when they flee their countries for political and economical reasons.
There are three themes in Snow’s book that I feel are significant to address. The first theme I will talk about are the three dimensions of homelessness. Each of the groups in Snow’s book experience some degree of homelessness, but the nature of that experience often varies considerable among them. These differences can be clarified by considering three separate dimensions of homelessness. The first dimension being life-style characterized by the absence of conventional permanent housing, the second dimension being the presence or absence of familial support, and the third dimension being the degree of dignity and moral worth associated with the various categories of homelessness. These dimensions may be reasons why people become homeless.
Snow feels that “homeless street people are more likely to be perceived as homeless by virtue of their own imperfections or moral failings”(p. 9).
Homelessness in America Here in Tahoe, we are lucky enough to experience a great quality of life, and only a few have to face the horrible life of poverty and homelessness. However, nationwide, even right outside the basin, homelessness is a growing epidemic across the country. There are many ways one can become homeless; for the most part poverty. There are also different concentrations of ...
As we can see from this quote, people don’t take the three dimensions into consideration when viewing the causes of homelessness. People feel that the reasons for homelessness are inadequate work-skill, laziness, and failings in life. The second theme I will address is the inadequate care homeless people have in hospitals. The poor do not qualify for Medicaid because they don’t make enough to get insurance.
Thus, many homeless people have to go to hospitals that are understaffed or an outpatient clinic. According to Snow, “hospitals are disinclined to keep the homeless overnight because they are financial liabilities. They try to avoid inpatient care for the homeless except in life-threatening situations”(p.90).
Snow gave an example of homeless person named Marylyn who suffered from a broken ankle and was taped and sent home by the hospital. Marylyn returned to the hospital a few days later because her ankle was later diagnosed as broken due to her putting too much pressure on it. All of this could have been avoided if the hospital would have given her bed rest.
A homeless person is always on their feet and it is very hard for them to have bed rest. The hospital should have recognized this and given her adequate care for her ankle to heal. Snow states “hospitals have dealt with the homeless in a band-aid, revolving-door fashion, quickly dispensing remedial assistance and sending them back onto the streets”(p.90).
This is extremely unfair because a person with insurance would have been treated way differently then this. The last theme I would like to address is the of low paying jobs homeless people have which prevent them from paying rent and putting them on the streets. If income keeps pace with the cost of housing, then the structural basis for homelessness is not so robust.
Homelessness In America The Stewart McKinney Act of 1987 defines a homeless person as One who lacks a fixed permanent nighttime residence, or whose nighttime residence is a temporary shelter, welfare hotel or any public or private place not designated as sleeping accommodations for human beings. Included in the homeless population are people who stay with friends or family for a short period of ...
If, however, housing costs escalate much more rapidly than income, then the incidence of homeless is likely to increase dramatically. Many homeless newcomers do indeed find work, but they are rarely the type of jobs that enable them to escape the streets. Snow feels that “the regular work market, as we have seen, was not responsive to the employment needs of the homeless, and the day-labor market seldom provided jobs that paid a living wage for more than a few days running”(p. 243).
Many of the jobs the homeless quit are hardly the kinds worth keeping. Such jobs can best be thought of as stopgap measures that keep the worker off the streets, but only for a while. The jobs homeless people can get are low paying jobs that require not much skill.
Homeless people move from job to job hoping they can find a job in which it pays enough to put them off the streets. David Snow does an excellent job showing the struggles that homeless people go through. I feel there is a huge prejudice in homelessness when it comes to the job market and hospitals. In the job market, homeless people are forced to take low paying/low skill jobs skills because technology has changed in which they haven’t learned the new skills. The type of jobs they get don’t pay enough to put them off the streets. It basically gets them to survive for the day. I also feel that hospitals are very prejudice when it comes to treatment to homeless people.
The homeless do not have any sort of insurance and thus they will get inadequate care compared to a person with insurance. A person with insurance is treated extremely different and will get the best treatment to heal his/her injuries. However, a homeless person is given an inadequate treatment and are considered a liability because they can’t pay for the hospital bills. Homelessness is a major injustice we have in our society.