Homelessness is a growing problem in the United States. Countless people wonder the streets, sleep in boxes, and wonder where their next meal will come from. As a sociologist working on the Nation Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), I would address four main concerns: the links between poverty and the homelessness, links between unemployment and homelessness, lack of governmental support for the homeless, and lack of affordable, and satisfactory housing for the homeless.
Poverty and homelessness are go hand in hand. Websters Collegiate Dictionary defines poverty as the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Those who live in poverty are often unable to pay for basic needs: housing, food, childcare, healthcare, and education. If those living in poverty can chose to live in a house, or one of the above needs, they usually chose homelessness. There are also those where a serious illness will throw them into poverty, and for those the unavoidable chose is homelessness. Those who are employed and in poverty, live from paycheck to paycheck, and missing a paycheck, or losing a job can leave them to live on the streets. As a sociologist I would wonder why the number of those who are poor has not increased recently, the poverty level has. People in poverty are living with less and less money. From 1995-1997 the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased by 500,000, with 41% of poor people living with an income less than half of the poverty level. People are living with less and less, and their choice to afford other amenities, rather than homes, has drastically affected the rate of homelessness.
For many work proves no escape from poverty (NCH). Even with Americas economy is booming and unemployment is at its low, homelessness is still a serious and continually growing factor in the United States. The facts are that those with out a job are usually those who end up on the street. NCH blames this on falling incomes and jobs with much fewer benefits. Even with minimum wage contentiously increasing, its value has decreased- it is 18.1% less than in 1979. This does not correlate with the fact that since 1979 living costs have greatly risen, and people are earning less than in 1979. These declines in wages cause even working people problems in affording housing. In every state one of the fifty states more than minimum wage is required to afford a simple one to two bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. A minimum wage worker would have to work an eighty-seven hour week to afford a simple two-bedroom apartment at 30% of their income (which is the federal definition for affordable housing). In fact 40% of households in sub-standardized housing, have one working person in the household with half of their income going to rent. In fact one out of every five people living in homeless shelters are full-time employees. Studies show that this time will not improve this matter, with the predicated job-growth, most of the jobs available will pay below minimum wage. My main worry is that benefits of economic growth go mainly to those who need it least, those at the top of the income and wealth distributions. Those who need it most are living in the streets, wondering where their next meal will come from, and those who relieve it live in the lap of luxury. Thats justice for you.
Where is the governmental aide for the homeless? Thats is a growing question catalyzed by the decrease in the availability and value of public assistance. In fact the largest cash assistance program to poor families with children, Aide to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC) was repealed and replaced. This was due to declining benefits for families because of because if increasing inflation. This beneficial program was replaced with a program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). However this new program is causing many problems. TANF benefits are 1/3 of the poverty level for a family of three. Welfare alone cannot bring a person out of poverty and into a home. Even those who welfare has helped struggle after going off welfare, with many ending up