Imagine all the events that occurred in your life today. You woke up from your warm bed, took a shower, got dressed, went to either school, work, or both. Then you came home, had dinner, and went to sleep. These are all basic needs, basic needs that many people in the United States today don't have. Most people would agree that a day like this is fairly ordinary. Shelter, clothes, food, education, and family are all things that we usually take for granted and things that every person deserves. Unfortunately, these things do not belong to everyone. Far too many people in this country have no home. They own only the clothes that they wear. They don't know where their next meal will come from and they don't have family or friends to turn to for help.
The people described above are America's homeless. There are many circumstances that can cause a person to become homeless. On the other hand, there are also many ways in which we can prevent homelessness. Loss of income, inflation, the release of mentally ill patients, poor health, and some drug/alcohol-dependence are a few causes of homelessness. Help from government programs, staying in school, creating a support system, helping the mentally ill, and a few simple things that the average person can do are all ways of eliminating homelessness.
As the cause of homelessness has broadened and become more tied to fundamental economic changes in our nation, homelessness has become both a symptom of chronic poverty and an event that cuts across traditional defenses of income, education, and geography. According to Mary E. Hombs, author of American Homelessness, "The population of the streets has been democratized correspondingly" (Hombs 2). Many of the homeless are young people and racial and ethnic minority groups (Hombs 2). Families with children create close to 35% of homeless people and working people account for an average of 30% of the homeless population (Hombs 2). Significant minorities of homeless people are mentally ill, alcohol/drug-dependent, or HIV/AIDS infected. Single adults may become homeless because of job loss, trouble at home, or a health problem. Veterans are discharged from the military; prisoners are released after serving sentences; young adults "graduate" from the foster care system (Hombs 2). Children are another group of the homeless. The number of single teenage mothers is rising at an epidemic rate and it is estimated that some parts of the country, 20% of the homeless children are of single parents (Kosof 4).
Loss of income is a frequent cause of homelessness. Income determines people's lifestyles; in other words, the kind of home they live in, the food they eat, the clothes they buy, the medical and dental car they receive, and the types of entertainment they can enjoy (Nichelason 1). Many people fall into poverty because of low income and eventually risk homelessness because of their jobs. Many poor and homeless are working but don't make enough...