Solutions to the Problem of Homelessness
How can we solve the problem of homelessness?
I've seen all sorts of homeless people and all different types of homelessness. Each instance is a tragedy that I feel no one should have to suffer through.
I'd like you to think about the problem of homelessness. I'd like you to read the ideas I have presented here and to think of some of your own.
The problem needs more than one solution because it is actually far more than a single problem.
It would be another tragedy if a great solution were missed because it had never been thought of. It is my sincere hope that you think of a solution or two and that you will act - at the very least that you will spread the ideas around.
Another one of my lenses details some reasons people become homeless, but this page is intended to get you thinking about how we can address those issues. It's not intended to be the answer but to serve as a springboard for creating some.
Lack of a Living Wage
If people can pay for housing, they won't be homeless. Many homeless people work for minimum wage and they just don't earn enough to afford shelter.
Minimum wages need to be realistic. A minimum wage based on actual minimum living expenses would go a long way towards solving this problem.
Unemployment and Underemployment
Without a job, many people become homeless
Many people are kept at part time because their employers can't afford to provide the insurance benefits that they are required to provide for full time employees. So my partial solution to this cause of homelessness is once again, healthcare reform, preferably a single-payer system. This would reduce employer costs greatly and then they'd only need to worry about wages - even worker's comp would be reduced as they would no longer have to pay for workplace injuries.
As far as unemployment goes, I think that the economy would slowly but surely, benefit from greater health care availability which will lead to new employment opportunities.
A relatively recent problem associated with unemployment is the practice of credit checks for hiring purposes unrelated to cash handling or finance positions. These practices make it almost impossible for someone who has gotten behind on their bills to get hired and they are behind on their bills because they are unemployed! So making these practices illegal other than when hiring for cash handling or finance positions would help unemployed people have fewer barriers to employment.
Developmental Disorders and Mental Illnesses
How can we help mentally ill people from becoming homeless?
It needs to be made just as socially unacceptable to abandon friends and family members due to their mental illness or developmental disorders as it currently is to abandon them due to physical ailments.
There is a stigma to mental illness in America that is simply ridiculous. It leads people to ignore or put down people suffering from mental illnesses and disorders, even their own children. We could help fight the problem of homelessness by raising awareness about mental illness and developmental disorders. Once people no longer blame or shun people with those illnesses, they will be more able to be supportive towards friends and family members with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.
As an extension of that societal change, developmental disorders such as autism and ADD and treatment for mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, phobias, and others would need to be automatically treated by professionals. The attitude that mental and developmental disorders are imaginary (or signs of character flaws, sin, or bad parenting) needs to be dispensed with so people suffering them can get well and take care of themselves whenever possible.
So much suffering, including instances of homelessness, could be prevented by giving people the mental and emotional care they need to be well.
Physical Illness or Injury
How can we prevent illness and injury from causing people to become homeless?
Many people become homeless due to the fallout from a physical illness or injury. The exorbitant cost of health care, the predatory practices of health insurance companies, and medical debt are the number one causes of bankruptcy. This is a major reason why people become homeless.
This problem could probably be partially solved with health care reform, preferably a single-payer system. But that doesn't cover everything. People who are ill or injured often become unable to work and require help. This help might come from friends or family or from government-funded programs. It needs to be made absolutely unacceptable for sick people to lose their homes due to inability to work. Some sort of safety net needs to be created for people who do not have caring friends or family.
Can the spread of tolerance help prevent homelessness?
Many teens and young adults lose their homes when their parents' religious beliefs come into conflict with their own beliefs, actions, or sexuality.
This is a very sticky problem to address as very, very few people will even admit the role that religious beliefs play in causing teen homelessness. The only answer I can think of is outreach to fundamentalist groups. Perhaps if they were educated about what happens to teens after they are kicked out for changing religions or being homosexual they might temper their responses to those perceived threats to their religion?
If society at large is made aware of this cause of teen homelessness by talking about this almost taboo subject, then society at large can put pressure on parents to provide for and not abuse their minor children regardless of their beliefs or sexual orientation. This pressure could take the form of simple peer pressure or even creating and enforcing legislation that would create stiffer laws against child abandonment and abuse.
Sexual, Physical, and Emotional Abuse
Running away from abuse often results in homelessness. Many people become homeless due to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.
I think that homelessness due to sexual, physical, and emotional abuse could be reduced by providing mental health care to at-risk parents and children which could be used without having any stigma attached.
I think runaways due to abuse could be greatly reduced if all children were made aware of programs designed to rescue abused children and provided with the ability to easily contact those agencies for help. Many teens run away from abusive homes instead of seeking help simply because they don't know how to seek help or sometimes they don't even know what help is available.
Adults should be made aware of programs designed to help them cope with abusive partners as well. Awareness is important if people are to seek help
More Reading on the Problem of Homelessness - How You Can Help and How the Problem Could be Solved?
Learn ways to help the homeless and more solutions to the problem of homelessness in the midst of great wealth.
With so many ways to help homeless people, one of them may just work for you!
Which of these solutions would have the greatest impact?
Which one of these solutions to issues that cause homelessness would have the greatest impact?
Questions & Answers
It seems to me the first step toward solving the problem of homelessness would be to start sorting people out, triaging the streets, starting with no more than a few people. We don't have to wait for tons of money to come in to start the ball rolling. Has anyone made an effort in this direction?
I have found no evidence for such an idea put into practice, except by a few individual philanthropists.
The problem with that approach is that it just treats the symptoms of very sick societal practices. It would cost far more per person helped than fixing the broken society. For instance, single-payer healthcare would actually save the average taxpayer thousands per year and prevent a great deal of homelessness.
© 2009 Kylyssa Shay