Homelessness is one of the major social problems affecting different countries. In the United States, homelessness is a critical issue for government officials, social workers, policymakers, and societies (Nordfeldt 2012). The exact number of homeless citizens in the US is unknown. However, several studies have presented differing statistics to show the number of homeless people in the country. A study by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US-DHUD) indicated that the country had over 630,000 homeless people in 2012 (Gunn, Rikabi, and Huebner 2013).
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Over 1.5 million citizens were also using emergency or temporary structures for accommodation. Homelessness is a critical issue that has been recorded in the country since the 17th century. The problem is believed to be caused by a wide range of social issues that have affected the country for the past centuries. It is believed that every person must work hard in order to achieve the American dream.
Those who are disabled or lack appropriate resources have remained poor. Wars, natural disasters, inequalities, widowhood, and inappropriate policies explain why this problem continues to affect more people. Experts believe that more people will become homeless by 2020 if appropriate measures are not undertaken.
Analyzing this Social Problem
A homeless person is defined as “someone who does not have a permanent or adequate nighttime residence” (Philipps 2012:3). A person who has no shelter encounters numerous challenges. The sociological concept of race and poverty explains why more people continue to be homeless. Despite the efforts undertaken to deal with this problem, studies show clearly that more citizens continue to become homeless (Philipps 2012).
The above sociological concept explains how competition and scarcity of resources affect the lives of many people. The social system dictates different aspects, such as politics, education, and religion. Privileged persons find it easier to have better lives, while others lack basic needs. This kind of conflict has existed in America for centuries. Homelessness is one of the fruits of this conflict (Nordfeldt, 2012). As a result, more individuals are forced to focus on the best aspects that can redefine their lives. Social inequality has continued to increase, thus affecting the outcomes and experiences of many people.
Capitalism has led to homelessness because it promotes both social and economic divisions. Despite being an industrialized nation, the US has higher cases of homelessness because of capitalism (Eitzen, Zinn and Smith 2012). The economic concept also shapes the lives of minorities and women. Many minority groups in the US have encountered numerous challenges, such as lack of opportunities and resources.
Many people “lack the required education and health services, thus being unable to lead better lives” (Nordfeldt 2012:108). They lack jobs and eventually find it hard to meet their basic requirements. This fact explains why such groups have continued to remain poor and homeless.
Women and children are also widely affected by this problem. Widowed individuals are forced to look for food and take care of their children. Many homeless individuals live in different regions characterized by the lower class. The members of such neighborhoods have been unable to deal with the problem. More individuals have continued to become homeless, thus affecting the welfare of the entire community.
Homelessness is also associated with poverty and inequality (Philipps, 2012). Individuals living in poverty have higher chances of engaging in various criminal activities. This argument, therefore, shows how homelessness is a major challenge that shapes the lives of many women, minorities, and lower classes.
Trans-youth is another group that has been affected by the challenge of homelessness. The number of homeless trans-youths has increased significantly within the past ten years. Statistics show that around 20 to 40 percent of homeless youths in the US are transgender or gay (Philipps 2012). Estimates indicate that around 350,000 transgender youths are facing homelessness in the country (Henwood et al. 2015).
Some other aspects, such as class, sexuality, gender, race, and disability, determine who is most affected by homelessness. For instance, women and children have higher chances of becoming homeless. This is true because of increased single-parent households, divorces, and abuses. Minority groups are also disadvantaged, thus lacking various resources (Philipps 2012). Disabled people without anyone to take care of them will eventually become homeless. These aspects should be carefully examined in order to find the most appropriate solutions.
Solutions to Homelessness: Social Action Group
The problem of homelessness can be addressed using a wide range of solutions. Several social groups have been implemented in the United States in order to deal with this social problem. A good example is the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA). According to social organization, homelessness is a problem that can be addressed using appropriate practices, policies, and researches (MHSA 2016).
The MHSA was started thirty ago in an attempt to tackle the problem of homelessness in Massachusetts. The social group was necessary because Massachusetts used to have thousands of individuals without proper shelters, health support systems, and supportive services (MHSA 2016). The pioneers behind the organization believed strongly that the problem could be addressed using appropriate strategies.
MHSA’s goals include using its resources and evidence-based practices to provide permanent houses to different people (MHSA 2016). The agency also collaborates with different partners and members in order to deliver the most appropriate services. The mission is to end homelessness in the state through continued advocacy (MHSA 2016). In order to deal with this social problem, MHSA uses appropriate public policies, researches, and practices. The group offers emergency responses to the affected citizens. The “non-profit organization focuses on short-term shelter and permanent housing” (Philipps 2012:17).
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This group has succeeded in reducing the number of homeless persons in Massachusetts. The organization brings together different service providers and public agencies in order to find the best solutions to the problem (MHSA 2016). It also collaborates with the federal, local, and state governments in order to offer the best resources to more homeless people. Another program managed by MHSA is called Social Action Massachusetts (SAM).
This program brings together religious groups, ethical societies, and stakeholders in order to deal with homelessness (MHSA 2016). The program encourages more people to present powerful ideas that can be used to deal with homelessness.
The social action group, therefore, addresses the problem from the micro, meso, and macro levels. For instance, it works with specific individuals in order to deliver the best support. Local communities and governments are also encouraged to deliver relevant resources. The federal and state governments are also consulted whenever identifying the most appropriate solutions. Individuals are also encouraged to donate, present ideas, and propose solutions that have the potential to deal with this problem (Philipps 2012).
Proposed Solutions to the Social Problem
Several sociological concepts can be used to understand and address the major challenges facing different communities. Many sociologists believe that homelessness is a problem founded on inequalities and societal stratification (Nordfeldt 2012). Karl Marx’s views on social stratification and capitalism explain why inequalities exist in many societies. Such issues have, therefore led to homelessness in the United States. That being the case, policymakers should identify new measures to deal with this kind of stratification.
Two Structural Solutions
As mentioned earlier, capitalism explores the possible sources of inequality and homelessness in the society. Individuals tend to occupy specific positions in the society. Such positions will also determine their opportunities and experiences. The decision to change social structures will present powerful structures that can address this problem (Henwood et al. 2015). Instead of criminalizing most of the homeless people, the relevant authorities should embrace the power of holistic approaches (Nordfeldt 2012). Such approaches should combine different aspects such as housing, healthcare, and education. Comprehensive plans should be identified and implemented in order to offer long-lasting solutions to this problem.
The other important sociological concept is changing the structure of the society to ensure equality of opportunity of jobs, income, housing, and education (Elliot 2013). The government should change the social structure in order to deal with the imbalances, gaps, and challenges facing the American society (Elliot 2013). Most of the efforts embraced by the government have failed to deliver the best fruits. This situation should encourage different stakeholders to implement powerful initiatives that can deal with various social inequalities. New policies should also avail desirable opportunities to every minority group. Women, the disabled, and minority groups should be empowered in order to have positive outcomes (Philipps 2012).
Two Individual Solutions
I can use two approaches to address this problem. The first one is to promote different campaigns to sensitize more people about the problem and encourage well-wishers to house more homeless citizens. The second one is forming a group to address this problem (Elliot 2013). The right sponsors and well-wishers can be identified in order to support the initiative.
Eitzen, Stanley, Maxine Zinn, and Kelly Eitzen Smith. 2012. Social Problems. New York: Pearson.
Elliot, Andrea. 2013. “Invisible Child.” New York Times. Web.
Gunn, Jennie, Gulenia Rikabi, and Carroll Huebner. 2013. “Do You See Me: Ethical Considerations of the Homeless.” Online Journal of Health Ethics 9(1): 1-14.
Henwood, Benjamin, Suzanne Wenzel, Philip Mangano, MaryEllen Hombs, Deborah Padgett, Thomas Byrne, Eric Rice , Sarah C. Butts , and Mathew Uretsky. 2015. “The Grand Challenge of Ending Homelessness.” American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare 1(1): 1-21.
MHSA 2016. “Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance”. Web.
Nordfeldt, Marie. 2012. “A Dynamic Perspective on Homelessness: Homeless Families in Stockholm.” European Journal of Homelessness 6(1): 105-123.
Philipps, Kaitlin. 2012. “Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution.” Digital Commons 1(1): 1-56.