Studying the problems of the social structure of the population is a major area of modern sociological science. The study of homelessness in Chicago, Illinois, is topical and is due to the rather acute need to address this problem. As possible methods of correcting the current situation, it is proposed to increase the number of jobs for unemployed citizens, as well as encouragement of paid labor for this category of the population. As additional sources for a complex research, the scientific literature is used that contains information on this topic and includes authors’ authoritative opinions.
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Homelessness has become a particularly notable phenomenon in connection with urbanization and overpopulation, although it is hardly considered an exclusively urban problem. Moreover, this trend can increase, covering a significant part of the population, even in the periods of active housing construction. When speaking about this problem in the context of the American city of Chicago, Illinois, it is worth noting that here, the level of homelessness is quite high.
It is mainly due to the fact that this city is one of the largest industrial and transportation centers in the United States. According to these circumstances, a rather large number of people have been gathered here, some of whom are forced to live on the street for this or that reason. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to this problem and try to develop a plan that can help to reduce the level of homelessness in Chicago.
Review of the Literature
According to previous studies, the issue of homelessness was considered by scientists more than once. Today, it is known that more than three million of Americans have no housing (De Bradley, 2015). At the same time, some sources, for example, Chernega and George (2014) consider real ways of solving this situation, trying to attract political forces to correct the problem. Farrugia (2016) focuses on the issues of homelessness among young people, which is also a severe problem.
Aviles and Heybach (2017) claim that that the basis of homelessness is social inequality. Blau (2015) proposes some measures for people without housing to be involved in working activity. Evans, Sullivan, and Wallskog (2016) suppose that some social programs could be useful for homeless people. The variables used by the authors are usually dependent, that is, they consider the issue of homelessness as a consequence of some other problem, for example, unemployment.
According to general opinions, it is possible to conclude that the situation with the lack of housing for the US citizens and in particular Chicago is caused by external factors and is often not the reason for people’s conscious choice. The problem has been studied in sufficient detail to draw parallels between the studies and suggest a new mode of intervention, based on a qualitative research method.
The first research question to be discussed is whether unemployment rates affect the dynamics of an increase in the number of homeless people in Chicago. In order to investigate this variable in detail, it is worth paying attention to the article by Aviles and Heybach (2017), which says that a decrease in the number of jobs caused by overpopulation inevitably affects the increase in the number of homeless people. This statement is logical enough, especially considering that Chicago is the third largest city in the country, where various industrial enterprises and other production structures are concentrated (Evans et al., 2016).
Another issue that often arises in connection with the topic under consideration relates to family problems and whether divorces affect the increase in the number of homeless people or not. According to Farrugia (2016), the destruction of families and the upbringing of children by a single parent quite often make people leave their homes to live on the street because they are not able to cope with the payment of housing. This trend is perilous since it is not only associated with homelessness but also covers such a social problem as family relations. If the issue is not appropriately observed, its consequences can be rather dangerous and unpredictable. Accordingly, both of these issues are quite relevant and necessary for consideration.
Methodology of the Research
The type of research is qualitative because it is based on general information about the causes and consequences of homelessness in Chicago and does not make a comparative analysis of specific quantitative indicators. Perhaps, this is the most appropriate method of research since a simple statistical mapping of the number of people left without a roof over their heads will not help to solve this problem. On the contrary, as Blau (2015) notes, it is essential to examine the topic of why certain people lose the opportunity to live in their homes, and also develop possible ways of involving these people in public activities.
As a possible measure for the implementation of the study, interviews with homeless people can be used. Afterward, their answers can be compared. The questions about the possibility of finding a job and family relationships should be included in the survey.
Participants and Procedures
The object of the research will be citizens without a specific place of residence who will be questioned in person. The process of choice will be random. All the questions will be precise enough for every respondent to understand the purpose of the survey and its possible implementation. The analysis of the information obtained will make it probable to draw up a general picture and to determine the most frequently concurring replies. The table below shows two primary variables:
Table 1. Variable Operationalization.
|Variable 1||The problem of homelessness is caused by the lack of jobs|
|Variable 2||Divorces make people go to live on the street|
During the research, there may be some problems associated with the moral side of the issue of homelessness. For example, some respondents may refuse to participate in the survey because of too a problematic topic for them. Also, there may be a misunderstanding with homeless people since many of them are not Americans, and the complexity of the questions for them may be too high because of a language barrier or lack of education. An individual approach to each respondent can be a helpful way to solve emerging ethical issues.
Perhaps, it is not necessary to ask these people too harsh questions, which can cause them even more significant discomfort. Another way to ensure that the study goes well is to get personal consent from all the respondents. In the process of questioning, it is possible to ask people about whether they are ready to share their experience and explain to them that the answers they give will be used solely to draw up a general picture. These measures will probably help to achieve the fact that people will willingly share their problems and experiences about their status as homeless.
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Findings and Discussions
According to the hypothetical conclusions of the analysis, it can be assumed that the study will provide an opportunity to assess whether a high unemployment rate in Chicago is one of the principal causes of homelessness. Also, the results of the survey will allow evaluating which of the respondents are forced to live on the street because of a complicated family situation or a divorce. If all the data are assessed correctly, an accurate picture and conclusions can be drawn concerning what steps should be taken to correct the current situation.
The importance of the study is the fact that the number of homeless people in Chicago regularly increase, and the need for actions is relevant enough. The limitations that the research may face are respondents’ lack of communication skills and the reluctance of some of them to take part in the survey. Future studies can be devoted to how to solve the problem of homelessness and what possible measures can be taken, for example, attracting people without homes to work and assisting them in employment and socialization.
Thus, it is possible to develop a plan that can help to reduce the level of homelessness in Chicago and make judgments about possible causes of this problem to find appropriate ways to get rid the city of it. A complex qualitative research with a survey as the primary instrument to collect necessary data may be a beneficial way to assess the number of people left without homes and find the most common reasons. The significance of the study is its relevance because of a high rate of homelessness in Chicago and possibility to use it to find suitable ways to solve this issue and help people as soon as possible.
Aviles, A. M., & Heybach, J. A. (2017). Seeking stability in Chicago: School actions, (c)overt forms of racial injustice, and the slow violence of neoliberal rationality. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(58), 1-32.
Blau, J. (2015). Working with homeless and vulnerable people: Basic skills and practices, by Jeanette Waegemakers Schiff. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 35(4), 449-452.
Chernega, J. &, and George, C. C. (2014). Works in progress: Searching for solutions to the difficult problems of homelessness. Journal of Poverty, 18(3), 227-230.
De Bradley, A. A. (2015). From charity to equity: Race, homelessness, and urban schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Evans, W. N., Sullivan, J. X., & Wallskog, M. (2016). The impact of homelessness prevention programs on homelessness. Science, 353(6300), 694-699.
Farrugia, D. (2016). Youth homelessness, reflexivity and inequality in late modernity. Youth Homelessness in Late Modernity, 1(1), 17-38.
- Could you answer a few questions about your current lifestyle?
- How long have you been living on the street?
- What are the reasons that you lost your home?
- Would you like to change your life?
- What measures need to be taken by the state?
- What type of job would you like to receive?
- How do you assess your standard of living?
- Would you like to return your previous life?