Homelessness And The United States Essay

Homelessness And The United States Essay

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Nobody knows how many homeless people there are in the United States. Estimates vary, in part because there is no uniform definition of homelessness, either in law or in social science research. Many homeless people are transient, moving from one jurisdiction to another in short time periods (Forst 1997). Some are hard to find, others are living under freeway overpasses, in cars, or in squats. Homeless people may also want to become invisible for several reasons: some have pending arrest warrants, some fear enforced psychiatric treatment, and some homeless women fear that their children will be taken away. In 1994, the Clinton administration set the number of homeless people at closer to 600,000 nationally. Homeless advocacy groups often put the figure somewhat higher – from 700,000 up to 3 million. Recent studies have used broader definitions of homelessness and have calculated a larger number of homeless persons. A Columbia University study published in 1994 indicated that roughly 26 million adult Americans have experienced some form of homelessness, including being forced to live on the streets or with someone else (Forst 1997).
The federal government, in the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, defines homeless as (Forst 1997):
1. An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residences and;
2. An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is:
a. 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);
b. An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
c. A public or private p...


... middle of paper ...


...are having difficulty maintaining housing because of the rapidly increasing rents (North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People 2011).
The Fargo-Moorhead area is not alone in the rising trend. In 2009, Denver reported that nearly 30 percent of the homeless population was newly homeless and the state of Massachusetts reported that the number of families living in shelters rose by 33 percent in 2008 (National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 2009). Of the 25 cities surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors for its annual Hunger and Homelessness Report, 19 reported an increase in homelessness in 2008. On average, cities reported a 12 percent increase in homelessness. The lack of available shelter space leaves many homeless persons with no choice but to survive on the streets. Most cities do not provide affordable housing, shelter space, and food to meet the need

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