Homelessness is described as a situation in which people lack stable, permanent, and sufficient accommodation, as well as the immediate prospect of obtaining housing. Homelessness has been a public concern in the United States for decades, and many homeless people believe that society has turned a blind eye to them. Domestic abuse, mental disabilities, low wages, high housing costs, and joblessness are all factors that contribute to homelessness. The statistics on homelessness in the United States are staggering; as a result, this issue demands urgent attention. This article introduces both pro and con claims, as well as counter-arguments.
Protecting America’s Future; “Homeless Children”
According to statistical data, well over 600,000 individuals are homeless, with more 200,000 homeless people being families with children which accounts for 40% of the total homeless population (Megison). Therefore, one of the primary reasons why the US should focus on the issue is to make a difference in people’s and particularly children’s lives affected by family homelessness.
Research indicates that homelessness causes severe trauma to both children and youth with other effects including, health and safety risks and disruption of relationships (Megison). Homeless children also tend to suffer from mental and physical problems and also experience hunger, malnutrition, decreased academic achievement, emotional distress, and developmental delays. These children are at also vulnerable to sexual exploitation and as a result are most likely than their peers to be affected by devastating diseases such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases which are preventable (Megison).
Given adverse impacts of homelessness on children it is, therefore, important for the US government to focus on the issue as children are the future generation and tomorrow’s leaders hence, the country’s future.
Improving America’s Economy
The problem of homelessness hinders the overall economic growth of the country. This is because the US government spends billions of the taxpayers’ money annually in providing services to homeless people residing in the streets (Hilf). For example, while living on the streets, the homeless are prone to many health problems due to adverse weather conditions, malnutrition and violence, therefore, the government spends a lot on ambulance calls, emergency room visits, as well as other associated healthcare costs.
Furthermore, the US government also uses massive resources on police officers, prisons, emergency shelters inclusive of court trials and hearings as homelessness is often associated with “survival crimes” and drug offenses as drugs are commonly used as a form of escapism from the reality (Hilf). Therefore, eliminating the problem of homelessness could be beneficial to the country’s economy as the country would reduce its spending on homeless people thereby, using such finances to improve other areas of its economy.
Another of the negative impact of homelessness is high insecurity levels in a country. In the US, homelessness has been highly associated with crimes whereby, most of the homeless people engage in “survival crimes” inclusive of property offenses such as trespassing to support themselves which in some cases result in deaths (Parsell). As a result, this increases the insecurity levels in some of the states as well as streets.
The homeless people are often viewed as offenders; however, according to research statistics over the years, they have also been victims of hideous crimes. In the US violent crimes against the homeless have been on the rise with more than 600 homeless people losing their lives on an annual basis. However, reports indicate that when the homeless people are provided with supportive permanent housing, there is a reduction in the level of criminal behavior. Regarding criminal offending, there was an approximately 52% and a 54% reduction of the homeless victims. Hence, it is crucial to eliminate the homelessness problem (Parsell).
While many policies have been established to tackle the homelessness problem, the number of homeless people is still extremely high. Therefore, this problem could only be solved through the provision of permanent housing to the homeless particularly those that are chronically homeless, while providing affordable housing to those with low incomes. However, critics argue that, for the government to provide permanent housing to all the homeless such a project would cost billions, hence, it would be too costly for the taxpayers. Also, critics argue that homelessness is not a priority for the government as it can be solved by passing legislation and policies against people sleeping on the streets and in the parks.
In conclusion, to counter this argument, while it’s true providing permanent housing projects for the homeless can be costly it costs more for the government to keep the chronically homeless people on the streets (Parsell). According to research statistics, it costs the government approximately $ 48,217 for each homeless person; however, with permanent supportive housing it costs only about $ 35,000 (Parsell). In this regard, the government would save in areas such as health costs which would reduce by approximately $8,429, and a reduction of about $ 6,182 as a result of reduced crimes, thus on an annual basis (Stayner).
Stayner, G. “Cost Of Homelessness: Governments Will Save Money By Spending On Accommodation Services, Study Finds”. (2017). Retrieved From: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-16/cheaper-to-provide-homes-for-homeless-rather-sleep-rough/8354284
Megison, C. “Solving Family Homelessness: Why is this important?”. Retrieved From: http://solutionsforchange.org/solving-family-homelessness-why-is-this-important/
Hilf, A. “Research Reveals Big Economic Benefits to Housing Homeless Population”. Phys.Org. Retrieved From: https://phys.org/news/2016-10-reveals-big-economic-benefits-housing.html
Parsell, C. “Supportive Housing is Cheaper than Chronic Homelessness”. The conversation. Retrieved From: http://theconversation.com/supportive-housing-is-cheaper-than-chronic-homelessness-67539