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Issue of Homelessness in America Essay

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Updated: Jun 1st, 2020

Introduction

Homelessness is the condition in which individuals or families lack permanent shelter. In other words, the individuals or the families lack a place to call home. Homeliness is not only a condition associated with the minorities but also people with regular income. However, the income cannot afford a decent housing. In most cases, homeless is caused by lack of adequate income to cater for a decent housing.

However, extreme poverty and lack of affordable housing has been attributed to increased cases of homelessness. Actually, minorities constitute the largest percentage of the homeless people. In most cases, the homeless families are composed of single mothers having children of less than six years. Low education levels, poor job skills and limited job opportunities that could pay for a livable wage characterize the single homeless mothers. In fact, such families experience increased rate of domestic violence, mental health problems and high costs of medical care. Even though not all homeless people have similar experience, studies indicate that majority are found within the descriptive bracket.

Generally, most of the homeless families and individuals go through a traumatic experience. In fact, the circumstances in which the individuals and families have no shelter coupled with the disconnections from support services are stressful. The problem is exacerbated in single motherhood where mothers have multifaceted roles ranging from being the breadwinner to parenting. Based on the longitudinal studies that have been conducted, single parents with no homes have increased vulnerability to sexual and other abuses as well as exposure to other form of violence particularly within the family or in relationships.

Currently, the government and various agencies are collaboratively focusing their efforts towards preventing and ending the problem of homelessness among the population. The efforts are backed by a policy framework that provide clear guidelines and responsibilities to the governments at all levels as well as various agencies on how to manage the preventive measures and stop the problem of homelessness. Moreover, the current policy framework focuses on all groups of homelessness particularly the families.

Problem Statement

Currently the numbers of homeless families have significantly increased compared with the number in 1980s and earlier. The number of homeless in 1980 accounted for less than one percent. However, the numbers of homeless individuals and families have considerably augmented by over thirty percent in the last ten years. Given the number of homeless families, the increasing rate of homelessness is alarming calling for appropriate interventions from the governments at all levels. However, studies on homeless families indicate that other problems the families face obfuscate the pressing need of having a decent place called home. Moreover, interventions methods have not been focused on addressing the related problems rather on real issues concerned with homelessness.

The Purpose of the Study

The main aim of this study is to establish the manner in which US government is aiding various local government agencies in the prevention and ending the problem of homelessness in their various jurisdictions. The study will be critical in the understanding of the manner in which the federal government helps their local counterparts in alleviating the problem of homelessness among the various city populations.

Research Question

Upon completion of the study, the following question will be answered.

  • Is the federal government helping local governments reduce homelessness within their cities?

Hypothesis Testing

The study tends to test the assertion that the US government is helping the local governments reduce homelessness in their various cities. As such, the hypothesis of this study include

  • H0: US government is helping local government reduce homelessness
  • H1: US government is not helping local government reduce homelessness

Definition of Terms

Homelessness refers to the situation in which an individual or families lack permanent shelter or descent housing.

Affordable housing refers to less expensive rental houses provided by the government or any agency to the public. In most cases, affordable houses are normally targeted for the low-income earners.

Homeless families are families that have no pace to call home. In fact, most of the homeless families normally lack adequate income even to rent affordable houses.

Literature Review

Introduction

Studies indicate that factors such as the mental illness, the childbirths, hospitalization of parents are not the causes of homelessness. Essentially, these factors are associated with individual susceptibility of being homeless (Bassuk, 2010). In addition, these factors simply indicate individuals that are likely to be affected by structural issues related to homelessness. In fact, this review is chosen due to its focus on the stated topic and its ability to answer directly the stated study question. In other words, the review tends to provide a broader view of the topic while directly answer the research question.

Causes of Homelessness

Various factors have been cited to cause homeless in America. Studies indicate that acute shortage of basic needs and deficiency in reasonably priced housing are the major causes of homeless (Bassuk, 2010; Guarino & Bassuk, 2011). Statistics indicate that the number of affordable rental housing units have reduced drastically by approximately 23%. The percentage represents an estimated number of 1.2 million housing units.

Besides, over six million Americans both individuals and families are at the level of increased risk of being homeless (Guarino & Bassuk, 2011). Such kinds of families are characterized by huge amount of their income being allocated to housing. Even though the families spend over fifty percent of their income on housing, they still dwell in substandard private residences. Besides, such families have little or no resources for other important necessities including food and clothing (Guarino & Bassuk, 2011).

To make it worse such individuals have no housing vouchers. In the circumstances that the vouchers are available, they still face difficulties in turning the vouchers into decent housing. The vulnerable economic conditions and increased levels of housing for disclosures worsen the housing situations of these families. Studies indicate that during the 2008 economic recession, the number of homelessness increased by over nine percent (Herman, Conover, Felix, Nakagawa & Mills, 2007).

In fact, families that find themselves homeless normally experience residential instability as well as community disconnections. Further, studies indicate that families headed by women have increased vulnerability of becoming homeless (Guarino & Bassuk, 2011; Geller & Bassuk, 2006). The reason is that single woman parents have insufficient access to programs geared towards eradicating poverty as well as childcare support. Moreover, single mother have increased multiple roles to play ranging from being the breadwinners to homemakers. The reasons explain why over single families headed by women account for over 84% of the homelessness.

Strategies Applied by the Government to Address Homelessness

Given the current situation of homelessness, policy makers often find it difficult to formulate a comprehensive policy framework that would completely address the current needs of the homeless individuals. Before, the federal policy on homelessness focused its efforts towards ending acute homeless among individuals of advanced age or the elderly (Geller & Bassuk, 2006). In most cases, the federal government through the policy supported the states or local governments plans geared towards ending acute homelessness among the elderly individuals.

The support was being provided through Housing First Approaches (HFP) that rapidly provided housing to the needy individuals. Through the program, chronically needy people have been provided with decent shelters regardless of whether they have met certain conditions (Geller & Bassuk, 2006; Herman et al., 2007).

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (TCSH) argues that approximately over eighty percent of supportive housing leaseholders tend to preserve their housing for a minimum of one year and engage in meaningful and productive services (Herman et al., 2007).

The agency further noted that the use of more expensive services such as criminal justice system and emergency healthcare decreases. The Federal Collaborative Initiative to end Chronic Homelessness (FCICH) indicated that the provision of descent housing contributes to the family stability and reduced usage of public utilities as well as reduced healthcare costs (Geller & Bassuk, 2006). Even though the federal policies were aimed at accomplishing the stated benefits, fewer quantities of funds were allocated to only one group of homeless people. The policy framework assumed the statuses of the homeless families.

In 2010, the Interagency Council on Homeless (ICH) issued all-inclusive strategic plan aimed at preventing and ending homelessness. In fact, the strategic plan majorly focused on homeless families particularly with minors. The strategic plan called upon the government agencies at all levels to put their resources collectively towards providing descent housing to the homeless families (Guarino & Bassuk, 2011). The policy framework was supported by various legislations allowing government agencies at all levels to adopt collaborative approach in order to prevent and stop homeless within the population. Within the last five years, the policy has made remarkable achievements regarding the provision of descent housing particularly to the acute needy families.

In fact, the policy framework has increased the collaborative efforts between the private and public sectors geared towards reducing chronic homelessness. Besides, the pubic-private sector partnership have contributed hugely to the reduction of chronically-ill sub-group of homeless individuals as well as persons that have experienced homelessness for longer periods (Guarino & Bassuk, 2011). The strategic plan has also provided a roadmap through which tragic housing problems can be addressed among the sub-groups of homeless people. In fact, the policy ensures interagency collaboration at all levels of government, help in strengthening the collaborative efforts of the private-public sectors partnerships both at the state and local government levels and align mainstream resources towards stopping and preventing homeless.

Local Government Intervention Programs

At the local government level, the policy provides a framework on how various projects and programs should work to attain the desired outcome. In fact, all programs focusing on homeless families should emphasize on activities that address the need of individual families. At minimum, the programs at the local government level should focus on rapidly re-housing the families (Geller & Bassuk, 2006). Local governments are supposed to participate on funding the programs efforts geared towards rapidly re-housing the families. In addition, local governments should support programs that rapidly respond to the immediate requirements of the families.

Moreover, the local governments have the responsibility of linking housing projects with government services and support (Geller & Bassuk, 2006). Collaboratively, the local governments and various programs operating within the jurisdiction are supposed to assess families and come up with individualized housing and support services plans that take into consideration the needs of individual homeless families.

Research Methodology

Introduction

The section of the study provides the methods of gathering the required information to answer the research questions and hypothesis. The methodology used in any study should be judged by the manner in which it informs the research purposes. Essentially, the aim of the research methodology is to provide data that responds to the research issues, present logical background assumptions and to ensure that techniques used account for the credibility of the study results.

The Study Design

As indicated, the study will utilized a survey as the method of data collection. The survey method of data collection is chosen due to its effectiveness in reaching out to the respondents and the quality of the obtained data. The desired data for this novel study will be obtained through administering self-designed survey questionnaires..Moreover, the data will be gathered from respondents selected through random sampling procedures.

In other words, the empirical data will be collected within the specified number of participants. In addition, the number of participants will be limited to a few numbers of respondents and will be chosen through simple random sampling procedures. Besides, in terms of data analysis, integrated statistical analysis tools including Microsoft office applications and statistical software have been applied. The analyzed data will be presented through the application of Line graphs, tables as well as statistical bar charts. Further, the methods of data collection are chosen due to the reliability and validity of the obtained results.

Population and Research Sample

The study focused on whether the federal government is supporting local governments to reduce homelessness. Moreover, the study is focused on actions taken by various local government agencies to reduce the homelessness. Therefore, all the representatives of various agencies focusing their efforts towards reducing homelessness were deemed viable for the study. However, only a small number of participants were selected through random sampling procedures and depending on the frequency with which they were involved in the actions geared towards reducing the homelessness. In addition, other attributes including type of the organization particularly the government sponsored were also taken into consideration. From the total number of representatives that could have been sampled, just 10 participants from various agencies particularly from homeless outreach Miami Beach were selected via a technique dubbed as convenience simple random sampling strategy. The self-administered survey was conducted, which helped in addressing the formulated research questions.

Procedures

The study procedures are divided into various activities that are allocated certain duration in which they are supposed to be completed. Besides, the study is divided into four main parts including preparation, data collection and analysis as well as writing the research paper. In preparation, sequential activities begin with the consultation of the supervisor to provide guidelines on selecting the research topic, designing the study, creating the study questionnaire as well as acquiring the study literature.

Data Collection Procedures

As one of the most important studies, the required information were collected through administering properly well-designed survey questionnaires to unbiased selected participants. The soundly designed survey questionnaires were administered to 20 participants. Each part of the questionnaires constituted of key items that suitably attend to the research questions. For instance, part one constituted the possible causes of homeless in Miami while other parts will generate insights on the government intervention methods and aids towards reducing homelessness. Some items in the questionnaire threw light on efforts of various agencies towards doing away with the problem of homelessness.

Data Analysis

To obtain the best correlation approximation values, the study quantitative data analysis were carried out by utilizing the integrated Statistical Analysis Tool (WISAT). In addition, the data were also analyzed through the application of various techniques including statistical analytical software such as the SPSS to come with measures such as percentages, frequency distribution and deviations to help in the understanding of the type of correlation between the variables. The techniques were used to determine the research respondents’ proportions that chose various responses. The methods were also applied for each group of items available in the questionnaire that ideally corresponded to the formulated research question and objectives. Line graphs, tables as well as statistical bar charts were used to make sure that quantitative data analysis is simply comprehensible.

Assumptions

The major assumption in this study is that all the procedures would be successful. However, various problems have to be encountered and sorted out. In addition, it was assumed that the methods applied would provide the desired data. Further, the study assumed that there would be one hundred percent response from the survey questionnaires. In other words, the study assumed that all the respondents would return the questionnaires with all the questions answered.

Limitations

Given the kind of research study that were carried out, the stipulated timeframe might hindered the full investigation and covering of all the required aspects as well as the parameters. Moreover, most of the factors were not easily measured since such variables are non-quantifiable. The limitations were anticipated to pose considerable threats when the gathered research data were to be evaluated and consequently analysed.

Results

Findings

The findings indicate that the federal government is hugely supporting the local governments in their efforts towards reducing homelessness in their various cities. In fact, the federal government is supporting the local governments through various interventions particularly providing a policy framework and guidelines, which the local government agencies base their operations. In addition, the federal government support the local government programs through the provision of funds and technical capabilities critical in attaining their set objectives. However, the findings indicate that the federal government still focus on the chronic cases of homelessness.

Conclusion

Various government agencies are currently focusing their efforts towards reduction and prevention of homelessness in US. In particular, the federal government through policy intervention and promotion of private-public sector partnerships have managed to support the local governments on their efforts aimed at reducing the cases of homelessness among all groups. Therefore, the hypothesis that the US government is supporting the local governments to reduce homelessness in several cities of jurisdiction is supported by the findings of this study.

Recommendations

The study is very limited in terms of scope design and resources. In fact, the anticipation of this study is that it should inform further research. Therefore, further studies should increase the scope of the study to make the results have reliable and valid conclusions. In addition, the study is limited to only one organization dealing with homelessness. In other words, many government and non-government agencies need to be studied in order to come up with valid and reliable conclusion.

References

Bassuk, E. L. (2010). Ending child homelessness in America. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(4), 496–504. Web.

Geller, S. & Bassuk, E. L. (2006). The role of housing and services in ending family homelessness. Housing Policy Debate, 17(4), 781–806. Web.

Guarino, K., & Bassuk, E. (2011). Working with families experiencing homelessness. Journal of Zero To Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, 30(3), 11–20. Web.

Herman, D., Conover, S., Felix, A., Nakagawa, A. & Mills, D. (2007). Critical time intervention: An empirically supported model for preventing homelessness in high risk groups. Journal of Primary Prevention, 28, 295-312. Web.

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