Vulnerable Populations: The Homeless
April 7, 2012
Vulnerable Populations: The Homeless
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1) states: “Everyone has the right to… food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services” (Donohoe, 2004). Although it is everyone’s right to have access to those necessities, it is not always the case for many, who for whatever reasons, have no means to afford them. Here in the United States, the current unemployment situation as well as record foreclosures has forced many people to become homeless. “The term homelessness refers to the condition of individuals without a ...view middle of the document...
Housing and social service cuts throughout the years have added to the continued growth of the homeless population in the United States. Today, most cities are dealing with an increase in the number of individual and families seeking assistance because of inadequate access to secure and safe housing. Many agencies are doing everything in their power to help and assist the homeless, but unfortunately, new policies have made it more difficult to help those people who have nowhere to live.
Nature of the Social Problem
Poverty and the lack of funds to afford adequate housing are two of the main reasons a person or a family will become homeless. Circumstances that can cause homelessness can include long-term or short-term unemployment, financial pressures like bankruptcy or high debt, rising rental prices, high cost to purchase a home, and lack of low income housing. Adding to financial difficulties are personal or family issues, such as domestic violence, family separation, drug or alcohol addiction, poor mental, or physical health. The lack of family or friend support can cause for a person or family to become homeless. Not having someone that can assist or provide guidance during stressful periods in their lives can add emotional and mental instability, which in some cases could be symptoms of some sort of mental illness. Mental illness adds to the problem of homelessness. Mental illness leaves many people incapable of providing for their basic needs, so even individuals who do have supportive families will end up living on the streets because of the nature of their mental health. Government sources estimate that approximately 20 to 30 % of the homeless population is suffering from a serious mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2003, as cited in Martin, 2011, pp. 158). To add to the problem, “if to include clinical depression and substance abuse disorders (often used to self-medicate), that percentage jumps to an astounding 50 to 80%, and this number is continuing to rise (North, Eyrich, Pollio, & Spitznagel, 2004; Shern et al. ,2000, as cited by Martin, 2011, pp. 158).
Demographics, Common Clinical Issues and
Homelessness does not discriminate. People who experience or become homeless can be from different regions, have different cultural backgrounds, ages, and could be of any gender. Minorities appear to be largely affected by homelessness. A study by the US Conference of Mayors in 2006 found that the homeless population is composed of 39% non-Hispanic Whites, 42% African-Americans, 13% Hispanic, 4% Native-American, and 2% Asian (Now on PBS, 2010). The End Homelessness website provides the following statistics:
• There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the U.S.
• Out of that number, 238,110 are people in families, and 404, 957 are individuals.
• 12% (67,000) of the homeless are veterans, and
• 23 % of the homeless population in the United States is...