Homelessness is a huge issue not only in the United States but around the world. Statistics show that on an average day, there are about 1 million people living on the streets in the US. Though the number is quite high, the rate of unsettled people in the US is low in comparison to other countries. This doesn't mean that homelessness should be taken casually; it is a serious issue which should be dealt with effective measures.
Technically, homeless people are people who don't have a permanent dwelling place. People who stay in homeless shelters during the night are also homeless. There are two reasons which are largely responsible for people leaving their homes; poverty, and a decrease in the number of affordable housing colonies due to bad economic conditions.
Other reasons include; domestic violence which often forces people to move away from the house, divorce which breaks up a family and one of the partners has to find a new place to stay which is not easily available, and mental illnesses which hampers the mental growth of a person making him/her emotionally distant from everyone and sooner or later they end up living on the street, alone. Even though this issue has received a lot of press in recent times, most people are still ignorant about the various problems faced by homeless people.
Problems Homeless People Encounter
Living without a home makes people prime targets of antisocial elements and this is not the only problem faced by them, the following are some difficulties faced by these displaced people on a daily basis.
- Homeless people are unsettled and without a permanent address. As a result, they have to carry all their belongings and supplies everywhere they go.
- Living without a home is dangerous as such people can be targeted by antisocial elements and be subjected to violent activities.
- These people have limited access to bathrooms and restrooms and are forced to live in unhygienic conditions which makes them vulnerable to diseases which may be life-threatening.
- As they don't have a permanent address, these people are constantly moving from one place to another. This makes it difficult for non-profit and government agencies to help or track them as they don't know their current whereabouts.
- People without homes have limited access to health-care facilities in case of an emergency, and almost no access to education as they have no money.
- These people are often ill-treated by society, which makes them hostile. They feel that they don't belong in the society and turn towards crime for respect and money.
- People without homes stand absolutely no chance landing a good job hence, often end up involved in criminal activities like selling narcotics or ammunition.
- The streets are not a safe place for teens and unaccompanied minors, as they're easy targets and are often subjected to physical and sexual abuse.
- Not everyone who lives on the street is technically homeless, recent statistics show that there is an increase in the number of women living on the streets because they have been subjected to domestic or sexual abuse at least once. This drives them to take the extreme step of leaving their homes and a majority of them are emotionally unstable. These women are often kidnapped or forced into prostitution or other inhuman atrocities.
Homelessness is not something that happened overnight - it has been in the country for decades and most choose to ignore it even if they come face to face with such people. The society usually believes that if someone is living on the street, he/she is mentally unstable. This belief is partially true; there are many mentally unstable people who can be found on the streets but the others are normal people like you and me. At some point in their life, they may have witnessed a traumatic event which may have left them with no option but to leave their homes.
The federal government is doing all it can to help but it is not enough, an average citizen has to stand up and try to help whenever he/she can. There are various organizations that are working constantly to make sure that homeless people find a shelter to live in. Organizations such as Volunteers of America, Rescue Missions, HomeAid, and the Salvation Army have helped millions of people return to their normal lifestyle. People who care enough to make a difference can get in touch with these organizations and try to contribute to their noble effort.