Homeless Families in America

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Thesis Statement

This paper will examine a subgroup of the homeless population, homeless families. It will explore the multiple causes of family homelessness and the consequences homelessness has on family life. The three main reasons for the abundance of dispossessed families within America are the following: 1) the lack of affordable housing, 2) low wages in the job-market, and 3) insufficient federal aid. In today’s society, these causes are the main contributors towards the heartbreaking condition of family homelessness, which often leads to family breakups, health issues, and educational obstacles. This paper will also give possible solutions to family homelessness and improvement plans for the future.

Defining Homelessness

“Home is where we start from.”(T.S. Eliot)

“Home …is …the human point of ultimate return.” (John Hollander)

Although most people know what homelessness is and it occurs in most societies, it is important to define because the forces of displacement vary greatly, along with the arrangement and meaning of the resulting transient state. The Stewart B McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 defined a homeless person as “an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence or a person who resides in a shelter, welfare hotel, transitional program or place not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation, such as streets, cars, movie theaters, abandoned buildings, etc.” Resent surveys conducted in the U.S. have confirmed that the homeless population in America is extremely diverse and includes representatives from all segments of society, including: the old and young, men and women, single people and families, city dwellers and rural residents, whites and people of color, employed and unemployed, able workers and people with serious health problems. The diversity among people that are homeless reflects how difficult it is to generalize the causes of homelessness and the needs of homeless people. Robert Rosenheck M.D., the author of Special Populations of Homeless Americans, explains the importance of studying homelessness based on subgroups, “each subgroup [of homeless people] has unique service needs and identifying these needs is critical for program planning and design.” Despite these diversities, homelessness is a devastating situation for all that experience it. Not only have homeless people lost their dwelling, but they have also lost their safety, privacy, control, and domestic comfort.

Homeless Families

Family homelessness is a fairly new social problem in America. Beginning in the early 1980’s, families with children have become the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

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