Homeless people have existed throughout time in every country of the world. Constant fluctuations in demographic forces and economic circumstances have further contributed to the situation. As per an estimate, 2% of the world’s population is homeless estimate. However, the actual number is likely to be higher since there are many causes and many states of homelessness.
Causes for Homelessness
- People without permanent homes not being recorded in official data
- Domestic Violence
- Poverty, which leads to people being unable to pay for food, childcare, education, health, and more
- Falling incomes and less secure jobs
- Mental illnesses, which may even cause the homeless to turn towards substance abuse
- Property Foreclosures
- System failures such as inadequate planning of hospital discharges, lack of support for migrants and refugees, and unavailability of de-addiction facilities
Of course, all problems always have different kinds of solutions as well. It will be helpful to look at homeless causes and solutions in totality, for the best results.
Homelessness is Unique
Different groups of homeless people react in numerous ways, the reason being that it impacts each of them in a unique way. The youth experience this in a way that is different from adults, largely because most of them do not have responsibilities at their ages.
Most people have a tendency to treat the homeless as an entirely separate category of people, but they are not part of a distinct population at all. In fact, the line between homeless people and people with homes is a very thin one, or it may also be said that there is only fluid but no line. There are a large number of people who start by sleeping in parks or cars, then move to a shelter, and then to proper housing. At any time they may move in with a friend, and get back to living in a shelter.
Effect of the Coronavirus
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of several jobs and has exposed the problem of housing instability. Surprisingly, this instability can be found in major cities like Los Angeles, NYC, and San Francisco. The current situation may lead to a 45% increase in homelessness here. It is natural that living on the streets will naturally be risky during the pandemic.
California, with 150,000 homeless individuals at present, has the largest number of homeless people.
- Preventative approach– This is the fundamental method which can nip the problem in the bud. It is possible to take a look at eviction protections, rent controls, and availability of subsidized housing. Some types of shelters already available are as follows:
- Emergency or temporary shelters are available for short term stay, for which no lease agreements need to be signed. These type of stays are also possible through transitional housing.
- Low barrier shelters impose a few restrictions on those who need shelters. Examples of such shelters are navigation centers, where case managers work with the residents to connect them with healthcare, permanent housing, and other services.
- Informal encampments are groups of makeshift shelters or groups of tents that may be present in unauthorized locations
- Sanctioned encampments are the legally sanctioned places of stay that are supported by the local government. For example, tiny homes have been set up in Oakland for the homeless. Over the years, safe parking for RVs and other vehicles have also become common.
- Housing vouchers can be given to low income households for obtaining moderate rate housing facilities on rent
- Permanent supportive housing is meant for disabled individuals or those with severe substance abuse problems
- Individual contributions– These can be in different forms, which have been mentioned below:
- Donating books, toys, clothes, blankets, and anything else that people would want to give to the homeless
- Teaching at a local shelter and helping them build skills like child care, administration, accounting, and more
- Volunteering to cook or serve meals and build homes through charities
- Volunteer to help out with legislation for the homeless
- Use of vehicles– In London, the large and decommissioned double decker buses are already being used by a social enterprise as classrooms, health centers, and accommodation. A single bus is capable of providing the above services to 16 people. Life skills and vocational skills are also being taught here.
- Training for young workers– Young adults who have been discharged from institutions such as foster care or jail are highly likely of becoming homeless. Many of them lack even basic employment skills. Training programs will help get on their feet and start earning, thereby preventing a case of homelessness.
- Buying hotels– It may sound farfetched, but it is a solution to treat the homeless at a facility. This is possible by purchasing old hotels and converting them into housing facilities. Local governments and wealthy entrepreneurs can contribute towards this.