Homelessness refers to a condition whereby persons do not have any regular housing or dwelling (Hopper, K. Pg 2). This is mainly because they cannot be able to pay for or maintain a regular house. This definition may alter from country to country and may in some cases include people whose reside in homeless shelter. People who reside in institutions which provide shelter and probably food for the homeless are also covered in this category.
The United States department of housing and urban development (HUD) defines a “chronically homeless” person as one with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years” .Research has recently showed that children and families are the most increasing segment in America. The government has been in the forefront in formulating policies that seek to reduce homelessness. The USA government requested the major cities with the high levels of homelessness to formulate plans that will end homelessness. Previously the USA government had adopted the Housing first concept, whereby the homeless are provided with permanent shelter. This is however proved tricky and difficult to carry out because it requires formulation of long plans term.
Homelessness has recently been reported to have shifted from cities to rural and suburban regions. There are 1.6 million people who have been reported homeless in the year 2009. This is because they have been on a gradual rise (Hopper, K. Pg 6).Contributing causes of homelessness in New YorkThere are a myriad causes of homelessness and vary within region to region.
These areSubstance abuse: This refers to the use overreliance on a certain drug and chemicals in such a way that it causes an illness or a medical problem. This is usually detrimental to the user’s life. People who are involved in substance are usually unable to manage their lives which results in homelessness. Substance abuse may lead to dependence or addiction to the drug or chemical making it hard for a user to withdraw from its daily use. In New York substance use is responsible for a third of deaths occurring among the single adult shelters.
The unemployed usually find it difficult to pay, rent or construct t a permanent shelter or housing. Low income levels make it impossible for them to be able to pay for housing.Inequalities in health careInternal and external conflictHigh cost of housingDomestic violenceMortgage defaultersSolutions to homelessnessHousing first / rapid re-housing; this concept was adopted by the USA government where the government requested major cities to formulate a 10 year plan for ensuring that the homeless finally obtain permanent housing (Hopper, K. Pg 23). The cities were also requested to come up with supporting solutions to ensure that the project was sustainable.
Supportive housing; this refers to a combination of services and housing which enable people to live a more productive and stable life through cost effective means. Supportive housing helps individuals and families that face very challenging situations such as low incomes.Transitional housing; this refers to provision of shelter for certain segments of homeless population (Hopper, K. Pg 32). Transition housing in some cases may require the homeless to work as their residence is transformed to a permanent status. The transition time is usually short could be just a year or two.
Problems faced by the homelessHomelessness denies people personal security and privacy and it is difficult to sleep. This together with other life difficulties easily result in stress, Personal items such as clothing and bedding may be stolen and carried from time to time. It is also very difficult for the homeless to maintain good hygiene (Hopper, K. Pg 44). They hardly shave, brush their teeth or take a shower.
The homeless are busy finding food for themselves and families and are vulnerable to illnesses related to hygiene. These people sometimes go without food and end up eating food in small quantities. Various organisations have been in the forefront in providing food to the homeless.The homeless are also faced with social disadvantages as well as reduced access to social and public services such as hospital hence these people experience reduced access to health services and facilities.Children from homeless families find it difficult to attended classes in school.
This is because their families keep moving from one region to another. The children are unable to attend school constantly because of the challenges they experience back at home.Research has revealed that homeless families and individuals are experiencing violence than any other group in the society. The homeless in the society have also experienced Rejection and discrimination by other people. This is because they do not have a permanent residence and are seen as a burden to the society.The New York City government has targets to reduce homelessness through the provision of short term shelter and re-housing support especially during the time of emergencies.
Homeless people are vulnerable and susceptible to poor mental and physical health. The New York City government has involved other organisations and the health care community in improving conditions for the homeless.Available statistics show that from the year 2001 to 2003 55,914 workers used the Department of Homeless services (DHS) shelter system for at least one night (NYC 2005). 903 deaths occurred among those who used the single shelter system and 267 among adults who used the family shelter(NYC, 2010). this total made up 0.
7% of all adult deaths in NYC .Comparative statistics show that the death rate among those who used the adult shelter was twice as high as the general NYC adult population (NYC, 2005). The death rate among those who used the family shelter was 1 ? (NYC 2005). The leading cause of death among adults who used the shelter was found to be cancer and heart disease. HIV/AIDS and substance abuse accounted for a third of deaths among those who used the single adult shelter system. It is important to note that in the general New York population that these account for less than 5% of the total adult deaths (NYC, 2005).
The research further noted that the leading cause of death among women who used the single adult system was HIV/AIDS while that of men was as a result of substance use. The death rate due to heart disease was high among those who used the family shelters. Deaths due to HIV/AIDS, cancer and substance abuse were higher among those who used the single adult shelter system.Solutions to overcome street homelessnessThe New York City Government provides shelters and has initiated campaigns to make sure that the homeless indeed use these shelters, however, there are thousands of homeless individuals still living in the streets. These individual find it difficult to live in the shelters because of the requirements and regulations that they have to comply with. The street families largely consist of individuals involved in substance abuse and the mentally ill.
They largely survive on handouts from the passers-by (NYC 2010). The New York government acknowledges that effective solutions to homelessness must provide safe and viable alternatives that are easy to access. This must be well accounted for in order to improve the system over time in order to cater for new and emerging demands.The above diagram pie chart shows the distribution of unsheltered individuals in New York in three boroughs i.e. Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn.
The proposed principles of reducing homelessness in New York are captured in the principles developed by the New York government.These Guiding principles are; Provision of safe and affordable housing; this aims at ensuring that all New York residents have access to affordable housing which requires effective collaboration from the relevant authorities and stakeholders. There is also the need for supportive and preventive services which basically help individuals to a avoid homelessnessHomeless individuals and families should receive temporally shelter while the planning for permanent housing. Temporary shelter should be provided to these individuals or families. These shelters should be available in the short- run as they cannot substitute permanent housing. The children in homeless families should receive sound education by ensuring that their schooling is not disrupted as a result of homelessness.
Effective services structured to ensure that safe environment created through permanent housing is much more preferable to temporary shelter. Effective outreach measures should be adopted to ensure that the homeless indeed accept these services and shelter. Practices such as substance abuse should be discouraged as these promote homelessness in cases where individuals find it difficult to manage themselves.It is prudent to realise that all individual deserve and are expected to participate in the development and development of independent living plans. This ensures that each individual fell respected.
Therefore clear information regarding to transition through he shelter system should be dispensed expeditiously.All agencies must also work as partners to ensure that they are successful in achieving long term outcomes for individual s and families who either are or are about to be homeless. Collaboration, cooperation and accountability are necessary for achieving successful permanent housing for individuals. Public agencies should consider upholding those practises that ensure that individual or families do not become homeless. Collaboration between agencies will ensure that transition for individuals and families is sustainable.
Coordination of activities between agencies will ensure proper dispensing of services. Majority of homeless people in new York receive services from various agencies but unfortunately these agencies do not have effective communication among the clients.The services provided must ensure that the highest standards are maintained through constant quality improvement.