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Homelessness In The United States Essay

1253 words - 6 pages

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of poverty on young children and their families. The focus will be on homelessness and how the child is affected in two major settings: the home, or lack of, and school. In both of these settings, children are impacted by different social forces and must push through barriers that are set before them given their circumstance. “Living without permanent, long-term housing creates a number of stressors for children and families, but being homeless can be particularly detrimental to the healthy development of young children” (McCoy-Roth, Mackintosh, & Murphey, 2012). “Homeless families with very young children are one of the fastest growing segments of homelessness. This period in the life cycle is recognized as the most formative and fragile time for children and families” (Swick, 2010).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2012 there were over 53,500 children under the age of 17 years of age that were living below the poverty line in Mecklenburg County (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). The Federal Poverty Guideline for a family of four in 2012 was $23,550 a year (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2014), when the poverty line is this low it makes it impossible for families to climb out of poverty and many end up either on the streets or torn apart due to the regulations on shelters. During one of the multi-cultural events I attended this semester, I got to speak to a Maya Graham, who works for the Urban Ministry in Uptown. Maya said that services are available to families as long as their children are enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, but that many families are unfortunately broken apart due to the single gender shelters we have in our area. Male children under 15 years old are allowed to stay with their mothers and female siblings at the women’s shelter, however, once they are 16 years old they must be in the men’s shelter with their fathers; special arrangements are made if the father is not present (Graham, 2014). Homelessness has many different faces and comes in “various forms ranging from parents and their children living in a shelter, [living] on the couch of a friend, out of their car, or in some other continuously changing arrangement” (Powell, 2012).
The number one stressor that can cause a family to arrive on a path of homelessness is an unexpected financial obstacle, such as death of a parent or caregiver and unemployment, which is hard to overcome and impossible to see approaching. However, there are signs that there is financial trouble for the family. These signs include; moving two or more times in a 12 month period, changing schools and employment frequently (sometimes due to having to move), or working only odd jobs instead of holding down steady employment. One item to note, not all homeless families are unemployed; many work odd jobs and some have steady jobs but are paid an income that is insufficient to meet their basic...

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