Homelessness in the United States
Observers of modern
homelessnessoften cite some of the following potential causes of homelessness:
* The movement in the 1950s in state
mental healthsystems to shift towards community-based treatment as opposed to long-term commitment in institutions. Unfortunately, due to the absence of local community housing programs, many patients ended up in the streets.
* Redevelopment and gentrification activities instituted by cities across the country through which low-income neighborhoods are declared blighted and demolished to make way for projects that generate higher property taxes and other revenue, creating a shortage of housing affordable to low-income working families, the elderly poor, and the disabled.
* The life decision to travel whether for religious, political, or personal reasons.
* The failure of urban
housing projects to provide safe, secure, and affordable housing to the poor.
* The economic crises and "
stagflation" of the 1980s, which caused high unemployment. Unlike European countries, US unemployment insurance does not allow unemployed insurance recipients to obtain job training/education while receiving benefits except under very limited situations.
* The failure of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide effective mental health care and meaningful job training for many homeless
veterans, particularly those of the Vietnam War. Many VA critics think homeless veterans are cycled through ineffective VA 12-step programs, restricting housing programs, and low skilled job training programs that actually keeps them cycling from program to program and back to living on the streets.
* Foster home children are not given job training in school or at home. Without a means to make money, nearly half of foster children in the United States become homeless when they are released from foster care at age 18. [Piasecki, Joe. [http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/article.php?id=3559&IssueNum=25 "Throwaway kids: Thousands of area foster children leave county care for a dangerous and desperate life on the streets"] , Pasadena Weekly, June 22, 2006.] [Fagan, Kevin, [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/04/11/MNGPH63KM31.DTL "Saving foster kids from the streets"] , San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 11, 2004.]
* Complex and prohibitive
building codes prevent homeless people from building their own shed or hut homes on cheap land on the edge of town within city limits. Building codes require a foundation and minimum size requirements for all homes. Manufactured homes, such as sheds and mobile homes, are banned in most places within cities. The purpose of these codes are to prevent shanty townsfrom forming, prevent surrounding home prices from dropping, and prevent an overburdening of city water, electricity, and sewage systems. These codes have been criticized for preventing homeless people from solving their own homeless problem.
Natural disasters that destroy homes: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. Places of employment are often destroyed too, causing unemployment and transience.
* People who have served time in prison, have tattoos, have used drugs in the past, have previously been a member of a gang, or have a history of mental illness find it difficult to impossible to find employment for years at a time, because of the use of computer background checks by potential employers.
* The change in public training programs from "hard" skill training (certified career training) to "soft" skill training.
According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the demand for emergency shelter in 270 U.S. cities increased 13% in 2001 and 25% in 2005. 22 percent of those requesting emergency shelter were turned away. With budgets squeezed dry, cities across the U.S. adopted a closed-door attitude toward the displaced. For example:
Port Authority of New York and New Jerseybanned panhandling in PATH subway stations and bus terminals;
Atlanta, Georgia, Mayor Maynard Jacksonproposed a policy of licensing panhandlers, it was not adopted.
University of California, Berkeleyordered repeated police sweeps of People's Park and evicted the People's Cafe soup kitchen.
Santa Cruz, California, dozens of homeless were repeatedly arrested for sleeping outside the local United States Post Office.
Traditionally single men have constituted the overwhelming majority of the homeless. In the 1980s there was a sharp rise in the number of homeless families in certain parts of the United States; notably New York City. Most homeless families consist of an unmarried mother and children. A significant number of homeless people are teenagers and young adults, mostly runaways or street children. A 1960 survey by
Temple Universityof Philadelphia's poor neighborhoods found that 75% of the homeless were over 45 years old, and 87% were white. In 1986, 86% were under age 45, and 87% were minorities.
While there is no one agreed upon definition, one definition originally developed as part of the
McKinney-Vento Actof 1987 federal legislation, [Department of Housing and Urban Development: [http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/homeless/rulesandregs/laws/title1/sec11302.cfm General Definition of Homeless Individual] .] describes a "homeless" person as being:
# an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
# and an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is--
## a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
## an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
## a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
Critics argue that such a definition does not account for all of those who are in-effect homeless, and therefore excludes many needy individuals from certain federal assistance programs who do not meet eligibility requirements. Proponents of an expanded definition of homelessness cite certain at-risk living situations which some believe should be included:
* Multiple families (or individuals) doubling or tripling up in insufficient living space. One of many documented incidents reports 25 individuals sharing a single house. [New York Times: [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A04E2D6163AF934A35751C1A96E958260&sec=&pagewanted=print Despite City Crackdown...] .]
* Weekly "rental" of economy motel rooms. With a growing lack of
affordable housingacross the country, low-wage earners are increasingly residing in cheap (and often ill-maintained) motels. [ see "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich]
* Individuals living in their automobiles. Often the vehicles used in such a manner do not even operate but simply provide shelter from the elements.
* Exclusive "couch-surfers." Instead of sleeping on the streets or in a shelter, otherwise homeless persons are forced to rely on the hospitality of willing friends or family for a place to sleep. Patience for such arrangements often runs dry, and many soon find themselves without a place to stay.
Lastly, there is discrepancy over which defined segments of the homeless population are most in need. The federal government is currently promoting a 10-year plan approach to end homelessness which targets those who are "chronically" homeless—defined as, "An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or has had at least four (4) episodes of homelessness in the past three (3) years." [Health and Human Services: [http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/homelessness/strategies03/ch.htm#ch2 Defining Chronic Homelessness] .] Many direct service providers are concerned that such a definition will exclude the majority of those who experience homelessness from receiving needed services.
This definition is not satisfactory to many providers, researchers and advocates, because it misses the population of "hidden homeless" who are currently doubling-up with family or friends. Some advocates also want "homelessness" to include those at serious risk of homelessness, but not yet experiencing it.
tatistics and demographics
Completely accurate and comprehensive statistics are difficult to acquire for any social study, but especially so when measuring the ambiguous, hidden, and erratic reality of homelessness. All figures given are estimates. In addition, these estimates represent overall national averages; the proportions of specific homeless communities can vary substantially depending on local geography.
The mobile and often hidden nature of homelessness makes this group difficult to accurately survey. The last rigorous attempt at estimating annual homeless prevalence in the United States was undertaken by the 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC). [
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Homelessness:Programs and the People They Serve", a summary of the NSHAPC survey. [http://www.huduser.org/publications/homeless/homelessness/contents.html] ] Annual homeless prevalence was estimated at between 1.58 million (based on October/November four-week count) to 3.49 million (based on February seven day count). [ Burt, Aaron, Lee & Valente. 2001. Helping America's Homeless. Washington, DC: Urban Institute] Most, though not all, advocates use the higher estimate of over 3 million, especially since homelessness is thought to have risen since 1996.
Lifetime homeless prevalence measured in 1990 by Bruce Link and colleagues found 7.4% or 13.5 million people reported experiencing literal homelessness. [ Link et al,. 1994. Lifetime and Five-Year Prevalence of Homelessness in the United States. "American Journal of Public Health", Vol 84:12:1907-1912.] These estimates were tabulated from telephone interviews and thus most likely excluded all currently homeless individuals.
Some estimates from various sources on the characteristics and number of homeless people:
* As many as 3.5 million people experience homelessness in a given year (1% of the entire U.S. population or 10% of its poor), and about 842,000 people in any given week. [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: [http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp Who is homeless?] .] Most were homeless temporarily. The chronically homeless population (those with repeated episodes or who have been homeless for long periods) fell from 175,914 in 2005 to 123,833 in 2007. [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: [http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr08-113.cfm] .]
; Familial composition [National Coalition for the Homeless [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Whois.pdf Who is homeless?] .]
* 40% are families with children—the fastest growing segment.
* 41% are single males.
* 14% are single females.
* 5% are minors unaccompanied by adults."1.37 million (or 39%) of the total homeless population are children under the age of 18." [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Whois.pdf Who is Homeless?] .]
; Ethnicity [National Coalition for the Homeless [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Whois.pdf Who is homeless?] .]
* 49% are
African American(compared to 11% of general population).
* 35% are Caucasian (under-represented compared to 75% of general population).
* 13% are
Hispanic(compared to 10% of general population).
* 2% are Native American (compared to 1% of general population).
* 1% are
Asian-American(under-represented compared to 4% of general population). ; Health-concerns [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: [http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp Who is homeless?] .]
* 22% are considered to have serious
mental illnesses, or are disabled.
* 30% have
* 3% report having
* 26% report acute health problems other than HIV/AIDS such as
tuberculosis, pneumonia, or sexually transmitted infections.
* 46% report chronic health conditions such as
high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.
* 55% report having no
health insurance(compared to 16% of general population).
* 58% report having trouble getting enough food to eat.
; Backgrounds [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: [http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp Who is homeless?] .]
* 23% are veterans (compared to 13% of general population).
* 25% were physically or sexually abused as children.
* 27% were in
foster careor similar institutions as children.
* 21% were homeless at some point during their childhood.
* 54% were
incarcerated at some point in their lives.
; Education [Urban Institute: [http://www.urban.org/publications/310291.html Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve] .]
* 38% have less than a High School diploma.
* 34% have a High School diploma or equivalent (
* 28% have more than a High School education.
; Employment [Urban Institute. [http://www.urban.org/publications/310291.html Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve] ]
* 44% report having worked in the past week.
* 13% have regular jobs.
* 50% receive less than $300 per month as income.
; Location [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: [http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_2.asp Who is homeless?] .]
* 71% reside in central cities.
* 21% are in
* 9% are in
; Duration [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: [http://www.nrchmi.samhsa.gov/facts/facts_question_1.asp How many are homeless? Why?] .]
* 80% of those who experience homelessness do so for less than 3 weeks. They typically have more personal, social, or economic resources to draw upon.
* 10% are homeless for up to two months. They cite lack of available or affordable housing as responsible for the delay.
* 10% are so called "chronic" and remain without housing for extended periods of time on a frequent basis. They typically struggle with mental illness, substance abuse, or both.
"Somewhat different data seem to be presented in the full demographics reported in the 1996 NSHAPC survey which include":
*61% Single men
*15% Single women
*12.2% Women with children
*4.6% Other women
*5.3% Other men
*2.3% Men with children
Racial demographics of head of household
*41% White, non-Hispanic
*40% Black, non-Hispanic
*8% Native American
Length of current homeless period
*5% Less than one week
*8% Greater than one week, less than one month
*15% One to three months
*11% Four to six months
*15% Seven to twelve months
*16% Thirteen to twenty four months
*10% Twenty-five to sixty months
*20% Five or more years
Lifetime self-reported alcohol, drug and mental health problems
*57% Mental health
*27% Mental health and alcohol or drug (dual diagnosed)
In general, many towns and cities had an area which contained the poor, transients, and afflicted, such as a "
skid row". In New York City, for example, there was an area known as "the Bowery", traditionally, where alcoholicswere to be found sleeping on the streets, bottle in hand. Rescue missions offering "soup, soap, and salvation", a term introduced by the The Salvation Army, [Salvation Army, [http://www.salvationarmy-newyork.org/SSGNY/index.php?id=_about-history "History of The Salvation Army Social Services of Greater New York"] ] sprang up along the Bowery thoroughfare, including the oldest one, The Bowery Mission. The mission was founded in 1879 by the Rev. and Mrs. A.G. Ruliffson. [The Bowery Mission [http://www.bowery.org/] For a history see [http://www.bowery.org/Display.asp?Page=OurHistory] ] At the time the Bowery Mission was established it was located at 36 Bowery, a location that in an earlier time in New York City, played a role in the New York City Draft Riots, when the building was used as a saloon. An examination of the Annual Reports for the first decade of the mission, and period New York City newspapers starting in 1881, suggest that an 1880 date for the mission is more likely than 1879. The present location of the Bowery Mission at 227-229 Bowery dates to 1909 when an abandoned coffin factory was converted to a mission.
In smaller towns, there were
hobos, who temporarily lived near train tracks and hopped onto trains to various destinations. Especially following the American Civil War, a large number of homeless men formed part of a counterculture known as "hobohemia" all over America. [Depastino, Todd, "Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America" [http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/143783in.html] ] Jacob Riiswrote about, documented, and photographed the poor and destitute, although not specifically the homeless, in New York City tenementsin the late 1800s. His ground-breaking book, " How the Other Half Lives", published in 1890, raised public awareness of living conditions in the slums, causing some changes in building codes and some social conditions.
In the United States, in the late 1970s, the
deinstitutionalisationof patients from state psychiatric hospitals was a precipitating factor which seeded the homeless population, especially in urban areas such as New York City. [Scherl D.J., Macht L.B., "Deinstitutionalization in the absence of consensus", Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 1979 Sep;30(9):599-604 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=223959&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum] ]
Community Mental Health Actof 1963 was a pre-disposing factor in setting the stage for homelessness in the United States. [Rochefort, D.A., "Origins of the 'Third psychiatric revolution': the Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963", Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 1984 Spring;9(1):1-30. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=6736594&dopt=Abstract] ] Long term psychiatric patients were released from state hospitals into Single Room Occupancies and sent to community health centers for treatment and follow-up. It never quite worked out properly and this population largely was found living in the streets soon thereafter with no sustainable support system. [Feldman, S., "Out of the hospital, onto the streets: the overselling of benevolence", Hastings Center Report, 1983 Jun;13(3):5-7. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=6885404&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum] ] [Borus J.F., "Sounding Board. Deinstitutionalization of the chronically mentally ill", "New England Journal of Medicine", 1981 6 August;305(6):339-42. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=7242636&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum] ]
In 1969, Paul Sullivan, a real estate developer and himself a recovering alcoholic, founded The Pine Street Inn, in Boston, to care for homeless destitute alcoholics, and get them back into society. [ [http://www.communityroom.net/NPOBackground.asp?141 On The Pine Street Inn] ] [ [http://www.hds.harvard.edu/cswr/research/RHHI/healing_body/08.moore.pdf "No Angels Here: The Closing of the Pine Street Inn Nurses Clinic, 1972–2003"] , by Grace Elizabeth Moore, Harvard Divinity School, Center for the Study of World Religions] He was awarded The
Isaac HeckerAward for Social Justice in 1980 for this work. [ [http://www.paulist.org/boston/information/hecker/awards.htm Paulist Center, Boston, awards profiles] ] [ [http://www.paulist.org/boston/information/hecker/ Issac Hecker Award for Social Justice] ]
The Diggers, a radical community-action group dedicated to the concept of everything being free of charge, established soup kitchens and free health-care facilities in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in 1965. This also began a movement of people that began to travel for political reasons as well as for personal choices. This is where the beginnings of the American nomadic caravans became popular, living homelessly, but happily. In the summer of 1972 was the first gathering of these nomads and they called it the "rainbow gathering". It was located in Colorado and is a temporary gathering, to be set up every year at the same time in a different state each year, and has grown to include many regionals throughout the year in various states and cities. They are the people, the caravans of North Americas' only nomadic tribe besides the Native Americans. Gathering to preserve gathering rights of all Americans (the First Amendment), and choosing to live freely.
In 1979, a New York City lawyer, Robert Hayes, brought a class action suit before the courts, "Callahan v. Carey", against the City and State, arguing for a person's state constitutional "right to shelter". It was settled as a consent decree in August 1981. The City and State agreed to provide board and shelter to all homeless men who met the need standard for welfare or who were homeless by certain other standards. By 1983 this right was extended to homeless women.
In 1980 federal dollars accounted for 22% of big city budgets, but by 1989 the same such aid composed only 6% of urban revenue (part of larger 60% decrease in federal spending to support local governments). [Common Dreams: [http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0610-01.htm Urban Suffering Grew Under Reagan] .] It is largely (although not exclusively) in these urban areas that homelessness became widespread and reached unprecedented numbers. Critics of Reagan identify several main policy shifts as fundamental in the sharp rise of homelessness.
Most notable were cuts to federal low-income housing programs. In his first year of office Reagan halved the budget for
public housingand Section 8 (the government's housing voucher subsidization program). Between the years of 1980 and 1989 HUD's budget authority was reduced from $74 billion to $19 billion. [Common Dreams: [http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0610-01.htm Urban Suffering Grew Under Reagan] .] Such changes resulted in an inadequate supply of affordable housingto meet the growing demand of low-income populations. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units [National Housing Institute: [http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/135/reagan.html Reagan's Legacy: Homelessness in America] .]
The 1980s also saw a continuing trend of deinstitutionalizing mental-health hospitals. It is believed that a large percentage of these released patients ended up in the homeless system.
In response to the ensuing homelessness crisis of the 1980s, concerned citizens across the country demanded that the federal government provide assistance. After many years of advocacy and numerous revisions, Reagan signed into law the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Actin 1987—this remains the only piece of federal legislation that allocates funding to the direct service of homeless people.
By the mid-1980s, there was also a dramatic increase in family homelessness. Tied into this was an increasing number of impoverished and runaway children, teenagers, and young adults, which created a new sub-stratum of the homeless population.
In August 1988, a
rioterupted in New York City's Tompkins Square Parkwhen police brutally attempted to enforce a newly-passed curfew for the park, largely in an attempt to evict the homeless who were living in the park. Bystanders, artists, residents, homeless people and political activists were caught up in the police action that took place on the night of August 6 and the early morning of August 7. The event has become known as the Tompkins Square Park Police Riot. [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0711FC3A540C778DDDA10894D0484D81&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fP%2fParks%20and%20Other%20Recreation%20Areas "Melee in Tompkins Sq. Park: Violence and Its Provocation,"] by Todd Purdham, "The New York Times", August 14, 1988, Section 1; Part 1, Page 1, Column 4; Metropolitan Desk]
Several organisations in some cities, such as New York and Boston, tried to be inventive about help to the swelling number of homeless people. In New York City, for example, in 1989, the first
street newspaperwas created called "Street News" which put some homeless to work, some writing, producing, and mostly selling the paper on streets and trains. [Harman, Dana, "Read all about it: street papers flourish across the US", The " Christian Science Monitor", November 17, 2003. [http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1117/p13s01-lihc.htm] ] It was written pro bono by a combination of homeless, celebrities, and established writers.
The McKinney-Vento Act paved the way for service providers in the coming years. During the 1990s
homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other supportive services sprouted up in cities and towns across the nation. However, despite these efforts and the dramatic economic growth marked by this decade, homeless numbers remained stubbornly high. It became increasingly apparent that simply providing services to alleviate the symptoms of homelessness (i.e. shelter beds, hot meals, psychiatric counseling, etc.), although needed, were not successful at solving the root causes of homelessness. However, critics claim that Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reforms increased the number of families entering homelessness.Fact|date=February 2007 At any rate, policies set into motion in the 1980s were never adequately reversed during the Bush Senior or Clinton administrations; conditions, therefore, remained ripe for becoming homeless.Fact|date=February 2007
In 2002, research showed that children and families were the largest growing segment of the homeless in America, [FACS, "Homeless Children, Poverty, Faith and Community: Understanding and Reporting the Local Story", March 26, 2002Akron, Ohio. [http://www.facsnet.org/edu/progs/family_03-26-02.php3] ] [National Coalition for the Homeless, "Homeless Youth" 2005 [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/youth.pdf] ] and this has presented new challenges, especially in services, to agencies. Back in the 1990s, a teenager from New York,
Liz Murray, was homeless at fifteen years old, and overcame that and went on to study at Harvard University. Her story was made into an Emmy-winning film in 2003, "Homeless to Harvard".
Interagency Council on Homelessness(ICH), the federal branch responsible for overseeing homeless policy that was created under the McKinney-Vento Act, is now attempting a new approach to combat homelessness. For the first time, government officials are calling for an end to homelessness. To accomplish this goal ICH has adopted a strategy largely devised by the [http://www.endhomelessness.org National Alliance to End Homelessness] (one of many homeless advocacy organizations), which centers on the production and implementation of local 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness. The idea is to get all of the necessary parties—local/state governmental agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, service providers, faith-based entities, and homeless (or formally so) individuals—working in collaboration to devise and implement a 10-year plan for their respective community. [Interagency Council on the Homeless, "10-Year Plans to End Chronic Homelessness", [http://www.ich.gov/slocal/10yrchronic.html] ]
In January, 2008, Governor
Deval Patrickof Massachusetts and his Commission To End Homelessnessreleased a report which emphasized preventing homelessness for people on the verge of it, permanent housing for the homeless who are now in emergency shelters, and support services to accomplish this. [Massachusetts Commission To End Homelessness, [http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=pressreleases&agId=Ehed&prModName=dhcdpressrelease&prFile=2008_01_11_homelessness.xml "Commission Recommends Focus On Permanent Housing Options"] , press release, January 11, 2008.] [Commonwealth of Massachusetts, [http://www.horizonsforhomelesschildren.org/uploadDocs/Final%20homelessness%20commission%20report%202008.pdf "Report of the SPECIAL COMMISSION RELATIVE TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN THE COMMONWEALTH"] , December 2007.] [Le Blanc, Steve, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/21/patricks_budget_aims_to_end_homelessness/ "Patrick's budget aims to end homelessness: Goal is to identify families in danger"] , "Boston Globe" and Associated Press, January 21, 2008 ] But there are many complications of this kind of program and these must be dealt with to make such an initiative work successfully in the middle to long term. [Abel, David, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/24/for_the_homeless_keys_to_a_home/ "For the homeless, keys to a home: Large-scale effort to keep many off street faces hurdles"] , "Boston Globe", February 24, 2008.]
Rather than channeling funds into direct services that seemingly sustain homeless lifestyles, these result-oriented plans are designed to focus efforts and funds on the creation of permanent
supportive housing(PSH) for the most troubled and difficult, "chronic" homeless population. Considering that it is actually cheaper to house someone than it is to fund the otherwise needed myriad services, this approach is being stated as a cost-effective solution. [The New Yorker: [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060213fa_fact Million-Dollar Murray] .]
On July 29, 2008, the
United States Department of Housing and Urban Developmentreported that homelessness in the US had declined by 30% between 2005 and 2007, with chronic homelessness falling from 175,914 to 123,833. [cite news|last=Swarns|first=Rachel L.|title=U.S. Reports Drop in Homeless Population|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/us/30homeless.html|work=The New York Times|date=2008-07-30]
In the simplest terms, a household becomes homeless when its provider(s) can no longer pay for housing, and this phenomenon happens overwhelmingly among the poorest of the nation. Therefore, experts in the field see a direct correlation between recent increases in poverty levels and increases in homelessness. In an attempt to understand why some people in poverty experience homelessness, and why some don’t, both structural and personal dynamics must be considered.
; Housing Opportunities: : There are three aspects of the current housing market that are as equally pivotal in causing homelessness:
# Housing costs, particularly for rental housing which disproportionately affect lower income households, are rising drastically. In the five years 1999 through 2004, rental price of primary residences rose by 19% and the
consumer price index(CPI-U) rose by only 13% [zFacts: [http://zfacts.com/p/702.html Housing Costs Rising Faster than Inflation] .] --the price of housing, in other words, is outpacing the rate of wage increase. There is not a single jurisdiction in the country where a person working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at the prevailing minimum wage can afford a one-bedroom apartment. [National Low Income Housing Coalition: [http://www.nlihc.org/research/2006factsheet.pdf Facts Sheet] .] Aside from just low wage earners, many workers cannot afford to live where they work, and even in moderately priced communities housing costs continually require a larger portion of a household's annual income. [Center for Housing Policy: [http://www.nhc.org/chp/p2p/ Paycheck to Paycheck] .]
# Although residential construction has been robust in recent years, zoning and the implementation of rent controls has reduced the profitability of constructing low income housing. In 2003 there was a supply deficiency of 1.7 million units of housing to meet the demand of 7.7 million extremely low income (ELI) renting households. [Center for Housing Policy: [http://www.nhc.org/chp/p2p/ Paycheck to Paycheck] .]
# Government housing-assistance programs are massively over-burdened. Currently, only one-fourth of all eligible families receive any federal housing assistance due to program funding constraints, [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: [http://www.cbpp.org/2-12-04hous-pr.htm President's budget would slash major housing program by 30% by 2009] .] and the average wait for Section 8 vouchers is 35 months. [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Why.pdf Why are people homeless?] .]
; Health care opportunities: : In 2004, 45.8 million Americans (or 15.7% of the population) were without health insurance, which was an increase from the year before, and was disproportionately represented by poor households. [U.S. Census Bureau: [http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004] .] The U.S. spends 16% of its GDP on health care, more than any other industrialized nation, and those countries provide health insurance to all of their citizens. [National Coalition on Health Care: [http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml Health Insurance Cost] .]
# Health care costs are skyrocketing. In 2004, total national health expenditures rose 7.9 percent—over three times the rate of inflation—and since 2000, employment-based health insurance premiums have increased 73%. [National Coalition on Health Care: [http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml Health Insurance Cost] .]
# People working low wage jobs, even if they work full-time, are less likely to be provided with health insurance. For example, Wal-Mart—the largest employer in the nation—does not provide health coverage for over half of its employees, who on average earn $8.23 an hour. [United Food and Commercial Workers: [http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/fact_sheets_and_backgrounder/walmart/benefits.cfm Wal-Martization of Health Care] .]
health insuranceand under increasing medical costs, unexpected health emergencies or serious chronic illnesses can quickly overburden the resources of poor households.
mental illness, and disabilitycan cause individuals to become paranoid, anxious, or depressed, making it difficult or impossible to maintain employment, pay bills, or keep supportive social relationships.
Substance abusecan drain financial resources, cause job or housing loss, and erode supportive social relationships. Substance abuse is quite prevalent in the homeless population. [cf. Booth, Koegel, et al. "Vulnerability Factors for Homelessness Associated with Substance Dependence in a Community Sample of Homeless Adults", 2002.]
* Lack of
education, such as dropping out of school which in turn is an obstacle in finding a high paying job and residence.
* Co-occurring disorders. Individuals with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance use disorders are among the most susceptible to the above mentioned losses.
* Many people (especially women and often with children) who flee from
domestic violenceoften must quickly adapt to massive life changes. Many find it extremely difficult to secure a new place of residence and/or a job.
* Institutional release. Most individuals being discharged from
prisonhave few resources to "get back on their feet" and have eroded personal contacts that may provide support. Youths who "age out" of systems such as foster careoften find themselves without needed support networks.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that some people find themselves homeless due to unexpected extenuating circumstances:
* Natural disasters: Many people lose their homes to any variety of natural catastrophes including but not limited to: floods, forest fires, storms, and earthquakes. In 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced over 1 million Americans. Tornadoes destroyed entire towns in Tennessee in 2006.
* Unexpected emergencies: A variety of people find themselves unable to cope with any number of the following sudden tragedies: being laid off from a long-term place of employment; losing their place of residence to an accidental fire; serious bodily injuries; discovery of terminal illnesses or diseases; loss of family member(s). These situations usually result not only in significant monetary expenses, but also in severe psychological and emotional hardships.
If homelessness is inextricably linked to
poverty, then without alleviation of the most crippling aspects of poverty, homelessness can never be effectively ended. In particular, three main concerns are the focus of both governmental and non-governmental ( NGO) efforts to end homelessness:
; More affordable housingHomeless individuals report a lack of
affordable housingas the number one reason for becoming homeless. [City Mayors Society: [http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html Big U.S. Cities Report Steep Rise in Hunger and Homelessness] .] This inadequacy must be remedied in order to get people off the streets and out of shelters. Many non-profit organizations are in operation to serve this need—for example, the [http://www.nlihc.org National Low Income Housing Coalition] —but most lack the funding necessary to create enough housing. Several proposed policy measures are designed to secure such funding, such as the [http://www.nhtf.org National Housing Trust Fund] , but these have not been signed into law.
; Livable wagesHomeless individuals report a lack of adequate pay as the number two reason for becoming homeless. [City Mayors Society: [http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html Big U.S. Cities Report Steep Rise in Hunger and Homelessness] .] As housing costs have continued to rise and the value of wages has either declined or remained stagnant, the poor are increasingly unable to afford whatever housing is available. Many campaigns promote a
living wagethat would increase pay to an amount purported to cover living expenses. Since the cost of living (especially that of housing) varies widely from area-to-area there is discrepancy over how much wages should be increased. One campaign, the [http://www.universallivingwage.org Universal Living Wage] , offers a unique formula that indexes the base wage of a particular locality with its respective cost of housing.
; Comprehensive health careHomeless individuals report mental illness as being the number three reason for becoming or staying homeless. [City Mayors Society: [http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html Big U.S. Cities Report Steep Rise in Hunger and Homelessness] .] Such illnesses are often closely linked with the fourth reason—substance abuse—and therefore it is generally accepted that both of these issues should be treated simultaneously. Although many medical, psychiatric, and counseling services exist to address these needs, it is commonly believed that without the support of reliable and stable housing such treatments remain ineffective. Furthermore, in the absence of a universal health-care plan, many of those in need cannot afford such services. Legislation such as the [http://www.bringingamericahome.org Bringing America Home Act] , if enacted, would provide comprehensive and available treatment for all.
; Paradigm shiftA significant paradigm has occurred in homeless services over the past five years which has began to shift the emphasis from "managing the problem of homelessness" with emergency shelters, soup kitchens and health clinic to ending homelessness by housing individuals who are experiencing homelessness. In 2001, the National Alliance to End Homelessness [http://www.endhomelessness.org/] released "A Plan to End Homelessness" which encouraged communities to develop and implement a 10 year plan to end or reduce homelessness in their communities.
Key effective programs include:
*Shelter Plus Care - a federal program that provides housing subsidies and are matched by local funds to provide long-term supportive services (typically case management). Experience demonstrated that many individuals who have been homeless for a significant time often lose their housing shortly after placement. The Shelter Plus Care program provides long-term supports including working with the landlord to keep the individual housed.
*Housing First - a service paradigm that assumes that individuals who are homeless are "ready" to be housed immediately and with appropriate supports can retain their housing. The
Pathways to Housingproject in New York demonstrated a five-year housing retention rate of 88 percent among formerly homeless individuals with serious mental illness. Many homeless people are required to participate in year-long plus substance abuse, mental health, and life skills programs when they don't even have those problems. Many people only need decent housing to get back on their feet. Central City Concern's (Portland, OR) Shoreline Project allows homeless unemployed men to move into SRO type single person studios and find a job within 70 days; it's been a great success with expected expansion of the program in 2007.
*Assertive Outreach - a form of engagement and outreach that emphasizes building a bond of trust between the case worker and the individual. Engagement is highly individualized with the pace dictated by the individual in need. Case workers do not force rules, regulations or program services until they are requested. Typically used to engage homeless, mentally ill individuals.
In Boston, Massachusetts, in September 2007, an outreach to the homeless was initiated in the Boston Common, after some arrests and shootings, and in anticipation of the cold winter ahead. This outreach targets homeless people who would normally spend their sleeping time on the Boston Common, and tries to get them into housing, trying to skip the step of an emergency shelter. Applications for Boston Housing Authority were being handed out and filled out and submitted. This is an attempt to enact by outreach the Housing First initiative, federally mandated. Boston's Mayor,
Thomas Menino, was quoted as saying "The solution to homelessness is permanent housing". Still, this is a very controversial strategy, especially if the people are not able to sustain a house with proper community, health, substance counseling, and mental health supportive programs. [St. Martin, Greg, [http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/09/17/02/2107-72/index.xml "Seeking help for homeless on Common: Program hopes to offer housing"] , Boston Metro newspaper, Monday, September 17, 2007.]
The present difficultly is to address these root issues while at the same time providing for the real and immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness. Many service providing organizations (including governmental departments) feel pulled between the need to provide shelter, food, and health-care, but also ensure that affordable housing and adequate wages are made available. Furthermore, those that provide direct service for the homeless often feel they are forced to "clean-up" the failures and shortcomings of other institutions that are not being held accountable. Most notably, people from this position assert that the discharge policies of both prisons and foster care programs often leave those exiting such institutions with no other option than homelessness. Such topics must be addressed in the fight to end homelessness.
Effects on education
Homelessness has a tremendous effect on a child's education. Education of homeless youth is essential in breaking the cycle of poverty. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act mandates equal opportunity to a free public education to homeless students. This act is supposed to break down the barriers homeless students have to receiving an education. These barriers include residency restriction, medical record verification, and transportation issues. Once a student surpasses these barriers, they are still subject to the stigma of being homeless, and the humiliation they feel because of their situation. Many homeless students fall behind their peers in school due to behavioral disorders, and lack of attendance in school.
Many advocates for the homeless contend that a key difficulty is the social stigma surrounding homelessness. There is anecdotal evidence that many Americans complain about the presence of homeless people, blame them for their situation, and feel that their requests for money or support (usually via
begging) are unjustified. In the 1990s, particularly, many observers and media articles spoke of " compassion fatigue" a belief that the public had grown weary of this seemingly intractable problem.
Public opinion surveys show relatively little support for this view, however. A 1995 paper in the "American Journal of Community Psychology" concluded that "although the homeless are clearly stigmatized, there is little evidence to suggest that the public has lost compassion and is unwilling to support policies to help homeless people." ["American Journal of Community Psychology": [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8546109&dopt=Abstract "Public knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about homeless people: evidence for compassion fatigue."] ,23 August 1995.] A Penn State study in 2004 concluded that "familiarity breeds sympathy" and greater support for addressing the problem. [ American Sociological Association: [http://www.asanet.org/page.ww?name=Exposure+to+the+Homeless+Increases+Sympathetic+Public+Attitudes§ion=Press "Exposure to the Homeless Increases Sympathetic Public Attitudes"] , press release,
22 March 2004.] A 2007 survey of New Yorkers found 67 percent said most homeless people were without shelter because of "circumstances beyond their control." More than one-third (36 percent) said they worried about becoming homeless themselves, with 15 percent saying they were "very worried." The survey by the nonpartisan group Public Agendafound support for investments in prevention, rental assistance and permanent housing. [ Public Agenda: [http://www.publicagenda.org/reports/compassion-concern-and-conflicted-feelings "Compassion, Concern and Conflicted Feelings: New Yorkers on Homelessness and Housing"] , 2007.]
Public Agenda has also concluded, however, that the public's sympathy has limits. In a 2002 national survey, the organization found 74 percent say the police should leave a homeless person alone if he or she isn't bothering anyone. Yet 71 percent say the police should move the homeless if they are keeping customers away from a shopping area and 51 percent say the homeless should be moved if they are driving other people away from a public park. [ Public Agenda: [http://www.publicagenda.org/citizen/issueguides/poverty-and-welfare/publicview/redflags "The Homeless: As Long as They Don't Bother Anybody... "] , Red Flags on Poverty, retrieved
25 July 2008.]
Homeless assistance programs
On any given night, as of 2006, nearly a million people will be homeless, despite a two billion dollar a year infrastructure designed to deal with the problem.Fact|date=February 2007 Even in the face of 1990s economic prosperity, homeless statistics show the number of homeless has remained high. Homelessness in America persists in part because many urban areas remain economically depressed. Housing costs are rising and wages remain the same. The most proximate cause of homelessness is poverty. The homeless spend more time in hospitals and jails but are usually reluctant to accept help and transitional housing. The following programs and policies attack the problem of homelessness, provide help to the homeless, and prevent further growth of the homeless population.
; HousingMany programs that are designed to assist the homeless population have incorporated some type of housing program for their clients. Whether it is a transitional, permanent or even emergency housing program, the assistance is often provided for a very low cost and maybe even free. Volunteers of America is an agency that believes preventing family homelessness is a critical part of their organization. Through Volunteers of America, transitional housing and emergency shelters are available to those who are in desperate need. In the United States each year, there are around 3.5 million people who live their lives without shelter or a stable occupation. For 2006 alone, $28.5 billion is being allotted to homeless programs ran through HUD (Housing and Urban Development). $1 billion is being given for Section 8 housing, and $1.4 billion is being used for Homeless Assistance Grants. The two main types of housing programs provided for homeless people are:
*Transitional:Transitional housing programs are operated with one goal in mind – to help individuals and families obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible. Transitional housing programs assist homeless for a fixed amount of time or until they are able to obtain housing on their own and function successfully in the community, or whichever comes first.
*Permanent:For a significant number of homeless Americans with mental or physical impairments, often coupled with drug and/or alcohol use issues, long-term homelessness can only be ended by providing permanent housing coupled with intensive supportive services. Permanent housing provides a "base" for people to move out of poverty.
Some shelters and associated charitable foundations have bought buildings and real estate to develop into permanent housing for the homeless in lieu of transitional Housing. [Kooker, Naomi R., [http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2006/11/06/story4.html "Pine St. adds to permanent housing holdings"] , Boston Business Journal, November 3, 2006.]
; Substance abuse preventionWithout supportive services, housing is not often enough to end homelessness. Various agencies, in fact all homeless prevention agencies and programs include substance abuse recovery and prevention programs. Objectives are to provide substance abuse counseling and access to treatment centers.
; Self-sufficiencyFor a significant number of homeless Americans with mental or physical impairments, often coupled with drug and/or alcohol use issues, long-term homelessness can only be ended by providing permanent housing coupled with intensive supportive services.
;CommunicationsMost homeless people have no means of communications with the outside world. Few have access to a phone to make or receive calls, get voice messages, send or receive email. Many support organisations provide some limited local phone access, voice mail, and internet computers with email. This is critical in the modern world for medical appointment verification, job and services searches. [cite news | first= Sam | last= Allis | author=
title= A port in the storm Center gives homeless a phone and a chance | work= The Boston Globe
publisher= Globe Newspaper Company | pages= | page= |date= May 14, 2006 | accessdate=]
There are several policies dealing with homelessness. In 1980 the government decided to start sending funding to the homeless, but it was not until 1984 that shelters were built to accommodate and feed them. As it was shown though seventy percent required the homeless to attend a religious ceremony and spend only a couple of nights there. In the 1987 McKinney Act the problem with homelessness became known as a huge social problem. Later on, the "No Child Left Behind Act" of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) amended the programexplicitly to prohibit states that receive McKinney-Vento funds from segregating homeless students from non-homeless students, except for short periods of time for health and safety emergencies or to provide temporary, special, supplementary services. The Chronic Homelessness Initiative. The Bush Administration hasestablished a national goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years, by 2012. The idea of a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness began as a part of a 10-year plan to end homelessness in general adopted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) in 2000. The following year, then-Secretary Martinez announced HUD's commitment to ending chronic homelessness at the NAEH annual conference. In 2002, as a part of his FY2003 budget, President Bush made "ending chronic homelessness in the next decade a top objective." The bi-partisan, congressionally-mandated, Millennial Housing Commission, in its Report to Congress in 2002, included ending chronic homelessness in 10 years among its principal recommendations. By 2003, the Interagency Council on Homelessness hadbeen re-engaged and charged with pursuing the President's 10-year plan. The Administration has recently undertaken some collaborative efforts to reach its goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years. On October 1, 2003, the Administration announced the award of over $48 million in grants aimed at serving the needs of the chronically homeless through two initiatives. The Ending Chronic Homelessness through Employment and Housing [http://www.dol.gov/odep/programs/homeless.htm] initiative was a collaborative grant offered jointly by HUD [http://www.hud.gov/] and the Department of Labor (DOL) [http://www.dol.gov/] . The initiative offered $10 million from HUD and $3.5 million from DOL to help the chronically homeless in five communities gain access to employment and permanent housing. Section 8 is the core housing program that helps extremely low-income families accommodate the gap between their incomes below 30 percent of the median income for each community. The government assists homeless families by awarding grants and vouchers. Vouchers are available to the families who are most needy and they are used to pay for housing found in the private market. Currently there are policy changes in who receives vouchers and there will be a reduction in the amount of vouchers granted to the homeless population.
Housing firstis a relatively recent innovation that has met with success in providing housing to homeless people with substance abuse problems or mental health issues. Housing First allows homeless men and women to be taken directly off the street into private community-based apartments, without requiring treatment first. This allows the homeless to return to some sense of normalcy, from which it is believed that they are better-poised to tackle their addictions or sicknesses. The relapse rate through these types of programs is lower than that of conventional homeless programs.
It was initiated by the federal government's Interagency Council on Homelessness. It asks cities to come up with a plan to end chronic homelessness. In this direction, there is the belief that if homeless people are given independent housing to start off with, with some proper social supports, then there would be no need for emergency homeless shelters, which it considers a good outcome. This is a very controversial position. [Graves, Florence; Sayfan, Hadar, [http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/06/24/first_things_first/ "First things first: 'Housing first,' a radical new approach to ending chronic homelessness, is gaining ground in Boston"] , "Boston Globe", Sunday, June 24, 2007.] There are many complications of this kind of program and these must be dealt with to make such an initiative work successfully in the middle to long term. [Abel, David, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/24/for_the_homeless_keys_to_a_home/ "For the homeless, keys to a home: Large-scale effort to keep many off street faces hurdles"] , "Boston Globe", February 24, 2008.]
*Women:Due to the increase of homeless women with children, there is growing interest in providing shelter and rehabilitaion for this group of individuals. One of the primary sources of funding for women (almost always including children) is TANF-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Funds are allocated for programs that enforce child-support, education, domestic abuse and housing most importantly.
*Children:Unaccompanied homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 24 have been estimated to make up as much as 12 percent of the homeless population. Numerous studies of homeless youth have found experiences of physical and sexual abuse, parental drug or alcohol use, childhood homelessness, foster care, and juvenile detention. Critics contend mainstream homeless programs fail to meet the unique needs of homeless youth. Ending youth homelessness requires a coordinated effort involving a variety of services including support for youth discharged from foster care and the juvenile justice system, access to education for youth at risk of becoming homeless, and additional research to help advocates better understand the needs of homeless youth.
*FamiliesEach homeless client is an adult representing a homeless household. 15 percent of these are family households (that is, the clients have one or more of their own children under age 18 with them). On average, each homeless family household includes 2.2 minor children of the client.
Criminalization of homelessness
Directly related to the above-mentioned stigmatization is a growing trend in the United States towards criminalizing the state of being homeless. [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/report.pdf A Dream Denied] .] Proponents of this approach believe that punitive measures will deter people from "choosing" to be homeless. To this end, cities across the country increasingly outlaw life-sustaining activities—such as sleeping, eating, sitting, and begging—in public spaces, and selectively enforce more neutral laws—such as those prohibiting open containers or
loitering—against homeless populations. [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/report.pdf A Dream Denied] .] Violators of such laws typically incur criminal penalties, which result in fines and/or incarceration. Many believe this trend is a manifestation of so-called NIMBYism, or Not In My Back Yard syndrome—an unofficial policy that tolerates social nuisances (like homelessness) as long as they are not visible or intrusive in a particular community. Homeless people with new "criminal charges" have very restrictive housing and employment options, if either, for years.
In April, 2006 the U.S. 9th District Court ruled that "making it a crime to be homeless by charging them with a crime is in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments." [http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/8138B5E4723C6FE988257150005B327E/$file/0455324.pdf?openelement]
The following are pertinent excerpts of that transcript vs corresponding illegal laws:
"'L.A., Cal., Mun. Code ss 41.18(d) (2005). A violationof section 41.18(d) is punishable by a fine of up to $1000and/or imprisonment of up to six months. - Id. ss 11.00(m)."'
The City could not expressly criminalize the status of homelessness by making it a crime to be homeless without violating the Eighth Amendment, nor can it criminalize acts that are an integral aspect of that status. Because there is substantial and undisputed evidence that the number of homeless persons in Los Angeles far exceeds the number of available shelter beds at all times, including on the nights of their arrest or citation, Los Angeles has encroached upon Appellants' Eighth Amendment protections by criminalizing the unavoidable act of sitting, lying or sleeping at night while being involuntarily homeless."' - id. at 568 n.31(Fortas, J., dissenting); the Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles."'
The defense encompasses the very difficulties that Jones posits here: sleeping on the streets because alternatives were inadequate and economic forces were primarily to blame for his predicament. Id. at 390. Jones argues that he and other homeless people are not willing or able to pursue such a defense because the costs of pleading guilty are so low and the risks and challenges of pleading innocent are substantial.
By our decision, we in no way dictate to the City that it must provide sufficient shelter for the homeless, or allow anyone who wishes to sit, lie, or sleep on the streets of Los Angeles at any time and at any place within the City. All we hold is that, so long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in Los Angeles than the number of available beds, the City may not enforce section 41.18(d) at all times and places throughout the City against homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public.
In August 2007, in Boston, Massachusetts, the city took action to keep loiterers, including the homeless, off the Boston Common overnight, after a series of violent crimes and drug arrests. [St. Martin, Greg, [http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/08/29/03/0520-72/index.xml "Night watch: Police removing overnight loiterers on Common"] , Boston "Metro" newspaper, Wednesday, August 29, 2007.]
Critics of homeless criminalization claim that such measures do nothing to actually solve homelessness and in fact make matters worse. Homeless people find it harder to secure employment, housing, or federal benefits with a criminal record, and therefore penalizing the act of being homeless makes exiting such a situation much more difficult. In fact, a recent federal appeals court ruled an anti-homeless policy in Los Angeles as unconstitutional. [L.A. Times: [http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeless15apr15,0,2130546.story?coll=la-home-headlines Justices Hand L.A.'s Homeless a Victory] .] Similarly, in response to growing reports of hate crimes, some state governments have proposed the addition of "people experiencing homelessness" to their hate-crimes statutes. Many credit the advocacy work of organizations such as the [http://www.nationalhomeless.org National Coalition for the Homeless] —which publishes annual reports documenting both
hate crimes [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/getinvolved/projects/hatecrimes/index.html Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA] .] and criminalization[National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/index.html A Dream Denied] .] trends—for shedding light on these largely neglected issues.
Crimes against homeless people
Recent years have seen a growing number of violent acts committed upon people experiencing homelessness—the rate of such documented crimes in 2005 was 30% higher than of those in 1999. [National Coalition for the Homeless: [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/report.pdf A Dream Denied] .] 75% of all perpetrators are under the age of 25.
In recent years, largely due to the efforts of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and academic researchers, the problem of violence against the homeless has gained national attention. In Hate, Violence, and Death on Mainstreet USA, the NCH reported 386 violent acts committed against homeless persons over the period, among which 156 were lethal. The NCH called those acts hate crimes (they retain the definition of the American Congress). They insist that so called
bumfightvideos disseminate hate against the homeless and dehumanize them. The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism (CSHE) at California State University, San Bernardino in conjunction with the NCH found that while 155 homeless people were killed by domiciled people in "hate killings" from, only 76 people were killed in all the other traditional hate crime homicide categories, such as race and religion, combined. The CSHE contends that negative and degrading portrayals of the homeless contribute to a climate where violence takes place. Various studies and surveys indicate that homeless people have a much higher criminal victimization rate than domiciled people, but that most incidents never get reported to authorities. On October 1, 2006 CBS News 60 Minutes telecast a story on "thrill" violence against the homeless and "Bumfights" videos.
A recent study in 2007 found that the number of violent crimes against the homeless is increasing. [Lewan, Todd, [http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/P/PREYING_ON_THE_HOMELESS?SITE=WIJAN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT "Unprovoked Beatings of Homeless Soaring"] ,
Associated Press, April 8, 2007.] [ National Coalition for the Homeless, [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/getinvolved/projects/hatecrimes/pressrelease.html Hate, "Violence, and Death on Main Street USA: A report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness, 2006"] , February 2007.]
ituations in specific U.S. cities
The Los Angeles region is thought to have the largest concentration of homeless persons in the country. In its biannual census of 2005, the County counted nearly 90,000 homeless persons living in the county at any given night. A quarter of a million are expected to be homeless at any time of the year. A 50-block area in downtown Los Angeles called
Skid Rowhas a homeless population as large as the homeless population of San Francisco. Hollywoodand the city of Santa Monicaalso suffer from visible homelessness. To combat homelessness, public and private service providers launched a new initiative called Bring LA Home, a program that would build 50,000 housing units for homeless persons and end homelessness within 10 years.
The city of San Francisco, California, due to its mild climate and its social programs that have provided cash payments for homeless individuals, is often considered the homelessness capitalFact|date=August 2008 of the United States. The city's homeless population has been estimated at 7,000-10,000 people, of which approximately 3,000-5,000 refuse shelter. The city spends $200 million a year on homelessness related programs. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/homeless/ SF Gate: Chronicle Homeless Special] ] It is believed that New York, which is 10 times as large in population, has only 5 times as many homeless individuals Fact|date=February 2007. On May 3, 2004 [http://www.sfgov.org/site/dhs_index.asp?id=13701] , San Francisco officially began an attempt to scale back the scope of its homelessness problem by changing its strategy from cash payments to the "
Care Not Cash" plan. At the same time, grassroots organizations within the Bay Area such as the Suitcase Clinicwork to provide referrals for housing and employment to the homeless population.
The city of
Chicago, Illinoisis also noted for its number of homeless people. Over the years, Chicago has gained a reputation as the city with the most homeless people, rivaling Los Angeles and New York, although no statistical data has backed this up. The reputation stems primarily from the subjective number of beggars found on the streets rather than any sort of objective statistical census data. Indeed, from statistical data, Chicago has far less homeless per capita than peers New York, and Los Angeles, or other major cities Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston, among others.
Denver, Colorado, Mayor John Hickenlooperhas made dealing with the issues that underlie homelessness a top priority on his Mayoral agenda, speaking heavily on the issue during his first "State of the City" address in 2003. While Denver's homeless population is much lower than other major cities, the homeless residents have often suffered when without shelter during Denver's infamously cold winters. [http://www.denvergov.org/Homelessness/default.asp]
Indianapolis, Indiana, as many as 2,200 people are homeless on any given night, and as many as 15,000 individuals over the course of a year. Indianapolis is notable among cities of similar size for having only faith-based shelters, such as the century-old [http://www.wmm.org] Wheeler Mission. In 2001, Mayor Bart Petersonendorsed a 10-year plan, called the [http://www.chipindy.org/pdf/ReaderFormatAll.pdf] Blueprint to End Homelessness, and made it one of his administration's top priorities. The plan's main goals are for more affordable housingunits, employment opportunities, and support services. The Blueprint notwithstanding, Indianapolis has criminalized aspects of homelessness, such as making panhandlinga misdemeanor; and the [http://www.indygov.org/egov/Council/home.htm] City-County Council has twice (in April, 2002, and August, 2005) denied the zoning necessary to open a new shelter for homeless women.
The city of
San Antonio, Texasalso has an abundance of homeless people. This was spoofed in the " South Park" episode, Night of the Living Homeless, saying that homeless people came from San Antonio. In the episode, they were eventually sent to California, citing that Californians are "good to the homeless".
In December 2007, Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston announced that the one night homeless count had revealed that the actual number of homeless living in the streets was down. [Loh, Christopher, [http://www.bostonnow.com/news/local/2007/12/20/city-experts-predict-drop-in-homeless-numbers "City experts predict drop in homeless numbers"] , "Boston Now" newspaper, December 20, 2007.]
In October 2008, Connie Paige of The Boston Globe reported that the number of homeless in Massachusetts had reached an all-time high, mostly due to mortgage foreclosures and the national economic crisis. [Paige, Connie, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/10/06/homelessness_hits_record_high/ "Homelessness hits record high: Advocates expect numbers to grow amid economic downturn and ask for state aid"] , The Boston Globe, October 6, 2008 ]
There has been concern about the transmission of diseases in the homeless population housed in shelters, and the people who work there, especially with
tuberculosis. [ [http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=13923&p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER "Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis"] - OSHA notice, 1997.]
*Barry, Ellen, [http://www.seiu509.org/somchai.cfm "A Refugee's Triumph Over Desolation"] , Boston Globe, December 28, 2003.
*Baumohl, Jim [http://www.brynmawr.edu/socialwork/faculty/baumohl.shtml] , (editor), "Homelessness in America", Oryx Press, Phoenix, 1996.
* [http://www.uams.edu/dhsr/faculty/booth.htm Booth, Brenda M.] , Sullivan, J. Greer, [http://www.hsrcenter.ucla.edu/people/koegel.shtml Koegel, Paul] , Burnam, M. Audrey, [http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP1147/ "Vulnerability Factors for Homelessness Associated with Substance Dependence in a Community Sample of Homeless Adults"] ,
RANDResearch Report. Originally published in: [http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/00952990.asp American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse] , v. 28, no. 3, 2002, pp. 429-452.
*Burke, Kerry, Fox, Alison, Martinez, Jose, [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/nydailynews/access/1196448321.html?dids=1196448321:1196448321&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jan+18%2C+2007&author=&pub=New+York+Daily+News&edition=&startpage=2&desc=HOBO+MADNESS+HITS+MAD.+AVE.+BIZMAN+SUES+HOMELESS+FOR+%241M "Hobo Madness hits Mad. Ave.: Bizman Sues Homeless for $"] , "
New York Daily News", January 18, 2007.
* [http://www.mccormack.umb.edu/csp/index.jsp Center for Social Policy] ,
University of Massachusetts, Boston, [http://www.mccormack.umb.edu/csp/publications/Hard%20Numbers,%20Hard%20Times-Individuals%20in%20MA%20Emergency%20Shelters%201999-2003.pdf "Hard Numbers, Hard Times: Homeless Individuals in Massachusetts Emergency Shelters 1999-2003"] , July 2004.
*Coalition for the Homeless (New York), "A History of Modern Homelessness in New York City". [http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/downloads/NYCHomelessnessHistory.pdf]
*Crimaldi, Laura, [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/bostonherald/access/1185709481.html?dids=1185709481:1185709481&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Dec+26%2C+2006&author=LAURA+CRIMALDI&pub=Boston+Herald&edition=&startpage=6&desc=Cardinal+spends+time+with+homeless "Cardinal spends time with homeless"] , "
Boston Herald", December 26, 2006.
*Crimaldi, Laura, [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/bostonherald/access/1216074001.html?dids=1216074001:1216074001&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Feb+14%2C+2007&author=LAURA+CRIMALDI&pub=Boston+Herald&edition=&startpage=10&desc=Homeless+advocates+urge+no+diversion+of+shelter+funds "Homeless Advocates Urge no Diversion of Shelter Funds"] , "Boston Herald", Wednesday, February 14, 2007.
*Crimaldi, Laura, [http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1120408 "Champion for homeless fights for life"] , "Boston Herald", Sunday, September 21, 2008. About Richard Weintraub, Director of Homeless Services for Boston, Massachusetts. The article has some modern history of homelessness in Boston.
*CSPTech, University of Massachusetts, Boston, [http://www.mccormack.umb.edu/csp/publications/2001%20family%20report.pdf "Characteristics of Homeless Families Accessing Massachusetts Emergency Shelters 1999-2001"] , April 2003.
*Culhane, Dennis [http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/people/faculty/culhane/] , "Responding to Homelessness: Policies and Politics", 2001. [http://www.igs.berkeley.edu/events/homeless/papers/CulhanePresentation/]
*deMause, Neil, "Out of the Shelter, Into the Fire: New city program for homeless: Keep your job or keep your apartment",
The Village Voice, New York, June 20, 2006. [http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0625,demause,73594,5.html]
*DePastino, Todd, "Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America", 2003. ISBN 0-226-14378-3
*Friedman, Donna Haig, et al., [http://www.mccormack.umb.edu/centers/csp/publications/HPI_3_Year_FINAL_Homelessness_June07.pdf "Preventing Homelessness and Promoting Housing Stability : A Comparative Analysis"] , The Boston Foundation and UMASS/Boston Center for Social Policy, June 2007.
*Gatto, Nora, [http://www.niagara.edu/pr/eaglefall2006.htm "Vincent"] ,
Niagara University, [http://www.niagara.edu/pr/Eaglemainpage.htm Eagle Alumni Magazine] , Fall 2006, p.12.
*Institute for Governmental Studies, Berkeley, "Urban Homelessness & Public Policy Solutions: A One-Day Conference", January 22, 2001 [http://www.igs.berkeley.edu/events/homeless/]
*Kahn, Ric, [http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/12/17/buried_in_obscurity/ "Buried in obscurity: Found dead on Causeway Street in June, his body awaits a nameless final rest"] , "Boston Globe", December 17, 2006. A story about a Beacon Hill church pausing to remember the recently departed homeless.
*Kusmer, Kenneth L. [http://www.temple.edu/history/People/kusmer/] , "Down and Out, On the Road: The Homeless in American History", Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-504778-8
*Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, "Down & Out Resource Manual", 2005. [http://www.mahomeless.org/]
* [http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=ehedterminal&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Economic+Analysis&L2=Key+Initiatives&sid=Ehed&b=terminalcontent&f=dhcd_hc_hc&csid=Ehed The Massachusetts Commission to End Homelessness] , [http://www.mass.gov/Ehed/docs/dhcd/hc/finalreport2008.doc "Report of the Special Commission Relative to Ending Homelessness in the Commonwealth"] , Boston, Massachusetts, December 28, 2007 (January 2008).
*Massachusetts, Commonwealth of, [http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs//homeless/g_finalechreport.pdf "Housing the Homeless: a more effective approach"] , [http://www.mass.gov/homelesscommission/ Governor's Executive Commission for Homeless Services Coordination] , November 2003.
*Morton, Margaret, "The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City", Yale University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-300-06559-0
*Nieto G., Gittelman M., Abad A. (2008). [http://www.psychosocial.com/IJPR_12/Homeless_Mentally_Ill_Nieto.html "Homeless Mentally Ill Persons: A bibliography review"] , International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 12(2)
*Radin, Charles A., [http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/12/18/on_the_street_a_quiet_outreach_of_kindness/ "On the street, a quiet outreach of kindness: Little Brothers lift the less fortunate"] , "Boston Globe", December 18, 2006.
*Riis, Jacob, [http://www.yale.edu/amstud/inforev/riis/title.html "How the Other Half Lives"] , 1890.
*Rossi, Peter H., "Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness"] , University of Chicago Press, 1991.
*Ryan, Charles V., [http://www.usich.gov/library/HomesWithinReach.pdf "Homes Within Reach: Springfield's 10-year plan to end long term homelessness"] , City of Springfield, Massachusetts, Mayor Charles V. Ryan, January 2007.
* [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt Schutt, Russell K.] , Ph.D., Professor,
University of Massachusetts Boston.
**Schutt, Russell K., "et al.", [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt/Boston%20Homeless%201986-1987.htm "Boston's Homeless, 1986-87: Change and Continuity"] , 1987.
**Schutt, Russell K., [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt/Working%20with%20the%20Homeless.htm Working with the Homeless: the Backgrounds, Activities and Beliefs of Shelter Staff] , 1988.
**Schutt, Russell, K., [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt/Homeless%20Adults%20in%20Boston%20in%201990.htm "Homeless Adults in Boston in 1990: A Two-Shelter Profile"] , 1990.
**Schutt, Russell K., Garrett, Gerald R., [http://www.springer.com/west/home/generic/search/results?SGWID=4-40109-22-33254028-0 "Responding to the Homeless: Policy and Practice"] , "Topics in Social Psychiatry", 1992. ISBN 0-306-44076-8
**Schutt, Russell K., Byrne, Francine, "et al.", [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt/Transitional%20Work%20Study.htm "City of Boston Homeless Services: Employment & Training for Homeless Persons"] , 1995.
**Schutt, Russell K., Feldman, James, "et al.", [http://www.faculty.umb.edu/russell_schutt/Homeless%20Persons%20Residential%20Preferences.htm "Homeless Persons’ Residential Preferences and Needs: A Pilot Survey of Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Boston Mental Health and Generic Shelters"] , 2004.
*Sommer, Heidi, [http://www.igs.berkeley.edu/events/homeless/NewHomelessnessBook1.pdf "Homelessness in Urban America: a Review of the Literature"] , 2001
*St. Mungo's organisation (UK), [http://www.mungos.org/facts/history.shtml "A Brief History of Homelessness"]
*Vissing, Yvonne [http://w3.salemstate.edu/~yvissing/ "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Homeless Children and Families in Small-Town America"] , 1996.
*Vissing, Yvonne, [http://www.forusa.org/fellowship/mar-apr_03/vissing.html "The $ubtle War Against Children", Fellowship] , March/April 2003
*Vladeck, Bruce, R., and the Committee on Health Care for Homeless People, Institute of Medicine, [http://darwin.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1092&page=R1 "Homelessness, Health, and Human needs"] , National Academies Press, 1988
*Toth, Jennifer, "The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City", 1993. ISBN 1-55652-190-1
* [http://www.usmayors.org/ United States Conference of Mayors] , "Hunger and Homelessness Survery", December 2005. [http://usmayors.org/uscm/hungersurvey/2005/HH2005FINAL.pdf] [http://usmayors.org/uscm/news/publications/]
United States Department of Health and Human Services, [http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/homelessness/strategies03/ "Ending Chronic Homelessness: Strategies for Action"] , Report from the Secretary's Work Group on Ending Chronic Homelessness, March 2003.
University of Vermont, [http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/vq/VQFall02/Bed.html "It starts With a Bed: UVM alums Richard Weintraub & Lyndia Downie lead fight to break cycle of homelessness in Boston] , "Vermont Quarterly", Fall 2002.
* Woolhouse, Megan, "Homes for the holiday: Housing agency, nonprofit team up to help the homeless", "Boston Globe", December 25, 2007.
Poverty in the United States
* [http://guide2homelessness.blogspot.com/ Survival Guide to Homelessness]
* [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/meanestcities.html Homelessness restrictions in Top 20 "meanest" U.S. cities.] ( [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/allcities.html Information for all U.S. cities] )
* [http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/rights/display.cgi?no=4232 "Of No Fixed Address: A Collection of Voices from the Streets of Chicago"]
* [http://www.geocities.com/nrthrd2000/HomelessnessResources.html Resources for People on the Street (San Francisco Bay Area) 2006]
* [http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html City Mayors Society - "Hunger and homelessness continues to rise in US cities"]
* [http://www.citymayors.com/society/homeless_usa2.html City Mayors Society - "Report accuses US cities of criminalising the homeless"]
* [http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html City Mayors Society - "Big US cities report steep rise in hunger and homelessness"]
* [http://www.nationalhomeless.org/ National Coalition for the Homeless]
* [http://naeh.org/ National Alliance to End Homelessness]
* [http://csh.org/ Corporation for Supportive Housing]
* [http://www.nchv.org/ National Coalition for Homeless Veterans]
* [http://www.lahomelessblog.org/ L.A.'s Homeless Blog]
* [http://www.jackiedowd.blogspot.com/ the 13th juror]
* [http://www.fotolog.net/mashuga/ Fotolog of the homeless in New York City and Wilkes-Barre, PA]
* [http://www.epath.org/blog/ Blog on homelessness in Los Angeles]
* [http://www.tothestreets.org/ To The Streets National Sleep Out]
* [http://www.universallivingwage.org Universal Living Wage]
* [http://www.nlihc.org National Low Income Housing Coalition]
* [http://www.epi.org Economic Policy Institute]
* [http://www.urban.org Urban Institute]
* [http://www.ich.gov/ Interagency Council on Homeless - US Government]
* [http://www.cityofboston.gov/shelter/reports.asp City of Boston Homeless census reports]
* [http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/ Coalition for the Homeless (New York)]
* [http://www.bowery.org/ Bowery Rescue Mission, New York City]
* St. Francis House, Boston, Massachusetts [http://www.stfrancishouse.org/]
* [http://usmayors.org/humanservices/ United States Conference of Mayors: Human Services]
* [http://www.hud.gov/homeless/ United States Department of Housing and Urban Development site on Homelessness]
* [http://aspe.hhs.gov/homeless/ United States Department of Health and Human Services site on Homelessness]
* [http://www.fobh.org/ Friends of Boston's Homeless]
* [http://www.magicalpudding.com/video%20pages/homelessheroepisodeone.html Homeless Hero]
* [http://www.doe.org/ The Doe Fund (Ready, Willing, and Able), New York City]
* [http://www.bphc.org/programs/initiative.asp?b=4&p=111&i=155 History of Homeless Services - Boston Public Health Commission]
* [http://www.pinestreetinn.org Pine Street Inn, Boston]
* [http://www.nhi.org/ National Housing Institute] - resources, information, and publisher of "Shelterforce", The Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Building.
* [http://www.familyhomelessness.org/ National Center on Family Homelessness]
* [http://www.cityofboston.gov/shelter/pdfs/report_03.pdf "Homelessness in the City of Boston Winter 2003-2004"] - Annual Census and Mayor's Report, Boston, Thomas M. Menino, Mayor
* [http://www.mass.gov/sao/Statewide%20Housing%20Site%20Inspections%20200551193a.pdf State Auditor's Report on Public Housing in Massachusetts, 2006]
* [http://www.cfh.net/pages/programs/ Center for the Homeless - Community Programs (South Bend, IN)]
* [http://www.teenliving.org Teen Living Programs helps homeless teens in the Chicago area]
* [http://www.socialmodel.com/prevent_united.php United Coalition East Prevention Project - Los Angeles Skid Row Nonprofit]
* [http://video.msn.com/v/us/fv/msnbc/fv.htm??g=03a81527-cefc-47a6-b1f1-c055d0c908bf&f=05&fg=email TODAY show: More homeless families in LA]
* [http://www.kcet.org/lifeandtimes/blog/?p=40 KCET-TV Segment on "Skid Row Kids"]
* [http://www.socialmodel.com/pdf/Toxic%20Playground.pdf Toxic Playground: Growing Up In Skid Row]
* [http://www.socialmodel.com/pdf/Left%20Behind.pdf Children Left Behind: The Plight of Homeless Students in Los Angeles]
* [http://www.brc.org/ BRC (Bowery Residents Committee) New York City]
* [http://www.tenderloin.net/ Pictorial of San Francisco's Tenderloin District - Warning: Images portray the truth and may offend those with liberal sensibilities]
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