Homelessness In America
3.5 million American citizens experience homelessness every year. 1 in 7 people were at risk of suffering from hunger in the United States, and 3.5 million people were forced to sleep in parks, under bridges, in shelter or cars. The number of homeless Americans skyrocketed in the 1980s when federal funds were withdrawn from low-income housing and social assistance programs for low-income families and the mentally ill. Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
- Families with children: 35%
- U.S. military veterans: 23%
- Minors: 25%
- Experienced domestic violence: 30%
- Suffer from mental illnesses: 20-25%
- In urban communities, people experience homelessness for an average of eight months.
There are three major factors that make up the epidemic of homelessness: economic, political, and social. Homelessness is primarily an economic problem due to issues such as lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable medical care, and low income. With such high costs and little pay, people cannot afford to provide for themselves or survive in society.
Federal assistance have begun to cut funds for housing programs and social services, causing the rate of homelessness to rise. Also, components like sanctions, work requirements, time limits, and immigrant restrictions have cut many people off from the benefits of federal assistance. Without help from higher services, many of the lowest income people must choose between things like food, medical care, and housing to make ends meet.
SOCIAL AND MEDICAL
Long term issues like mental illness, drug addiction, and alcoholism can put people at risk of poverty and homelessness. As seen in the statistics, 20 to 25 percent of those suffering from poverty and homelessness have mental illnesses, and with the high costs of medical care those who can't afford it end up on the streets. Addiction to drugs and alcohol also take up to 20 percent of those who are homeless.
By tackling its root causes - low wages and a lack of affordable housing - and by improving support services like TANF, housing vouchers, and health care, we can lower the rate of - and even eliminate - homelessness in America.