The most severe form of poverty is homelessness, which is living without a permanent residence. Homelessness refers to people who are using emergency/transitional housing and people who live in unsheltered homes, those living on the streets or in parks, abandoned buildings, cars, subway tunnels or other places that are not meant for human habitation. The homeless population has always been around in the United States. It is a social phenomenon that can be traced back from the colonial era through the present day.
In the 1800s, homeless people went to almshouses or “alms”, meaning charity that is given to the poor. The only help for the poor back then came from concerned ...view middle of the document...
• Some definitions also include individuals or families that are doubled up, or living with friends or relatives as homeless.
Types of Homelessness
There are three types of homelessness, Transitional Homelessness, Episodic Homelessness and Chronic/long term Homelessness. Transitional homelessness occurs during a housing crisis, loss of job, domestic violence, etc. Transitional homelessness is for a short period of time. Episodic Homelessness refers to circumstances in which a person has recurrent problems with housing. The homeless person could also be dealing with substance addictions, seasonal/minimum wage income or sporadic domestic situations that affect stable housing. Chronic Homelessness is, as defined by HUD, a situation in which a single unaccompanied person has been without a permanent residence for a period of more than one year or for more than four times in the last three years and suffers from a disabling condition (usually substance abuse or mental health issue) that is contributing to his/her homelessness.
Homelessness emerged as a major public concern in the United States from the years 1983 to 1993. During that time, homelessness became a ‘big business’ in social science, social policy and national news. The United States Congress passed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act in 1987 that set aside one billion dollars for research & supporting programs designed to help the homeless. However, after 1993, the news coverage on homelessness almost disappeared from public view and ‘waned’ as a social concern. Politicians showed little concern, charities reduced their interested in supporting the homeless (Marcus, 2006). Today, the issue of homelessness remains and is visibly on the rise. In 2008, 83% of cities in the United States had reported that there is an increase in homelessness. Homelessness is also more likely to be experienced by minorities than whites. Right now, minorities make up 65% of the nation’s homeless population consisting of 50% African-American, 12% Hispanic, 2-4% Native American, and 1% Asian.
Race and Homelessness
There have always been minorities in shelters and on the streets, but today they represent a much more significant segment of the homeless population. African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the overall homeless population (Murphy & Tobin, 2011). It is also good to note that ethnic makeup of homeless population is different when it comes to geographic location. People “experiencing homelessness in rural areas are more likely to be white, female, married, currently working, homeless for the first time, and homeless for a shorter period...