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Social Work and Homelessness in the United States Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 25th, 2021

Introduction

Topic Description

Homelessness is a major problem affecting many people in the United States. Isogai (2016) indicates that over 3.5 million US citizens become homeless in the country. This fraction includes around 0.3 million children. Studies have indicated that most of the homeless people have faced one or more life altering occurrences or events. Experts have gone further to indicate that homelessness is caused by a wide range of forces such as domestic violence, job loss, loss of family heads, and domestic disputes (Diebacker, Arhant, & Harner, 2015).

Individuals who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug abuse, mental illness, and disability will have increased chances of becoming homeless. These factors force many individuals to leave their homes and eventually become homeless. The problem is also known to have numerous effects and impacts on the lives of many people. Human service professionals have been providing suitable support to many individuals in order to get temporary shelter. Although these measures have not delivered permanent solutions to the predicament, the agreeable fact is that they have supported a fraction of the affected people.

Relevance to Social Work

The statutory sector has implemented a wide range of strategies and initiatives to deal with various social problems such as homelessness and poverty. The sector uses adequate financial resources to set up temporary structures for many homeless citizens. The practice has attracted a small number of professionals such as psychologists, public health experts, and social workers to support the implemented programs.

However, the role of social workers has not been exhausted (Isogai, 2016). This process has made it impossible for many children and homeless adults to lead quality lives. Social work skills have been unavailable to more people in the society. These complexities explain why the level of homelessness has continued to increase steadily in the country. The new study will analyze how different programs such as the Housing First have managed to minimize the impacts of homelessness. It will also examine the initiatives taken up by the social work function to deal with the problem of homelessness in the country.

Reasons for Selecting the Topic

Some agencies such as the Salvation Army, Rescue Missions, Volunteers for America, and HomeAid have been implementing different programs to deal with the problem of homelessness (Diebacker et al., 2015). The roles and duties undertaken by these organizations have delivered viable solutions to the homelessness quandary. Although these agencies have constructed and renovated multi-unit apartments or shelters to house many people, the agreeable fact is that many people are still affected by the current problem. The purpose of selecting this topic was to understand the unique gaps that were affecting the major strategies aimed at tackling the issue of homelessness. The completed study will be aimed at analyzing the effectiveness of the Housing First program to street homelessness based on the experiences of social workers, human service professionals, and children.

Statement of the Research Question

The targeted question for this research paper is: What is the effectiveness of the Housing First program to street homelessness based on the experiences of both human service professionals and beneficiaries?

The experiences and dexterities of social workers have been considered whenever focusing on the issue of homelessness. Most of the programs implemented in the country have revolved around the use of policies and non-governmental agencies. The statutory sector has used different approaches to provide adequate support to the affected persons and those who are at risk of becoming homeless (Diebacker et al., 2015). The experiences of human service professionals and beneficiaries of some of these programs can guide analysts to make useful decisions regarding the effectiveness of different programs such as the Housing First.

Terms and Concepts in the Research Question

  • Homelessness. The term “homelessness” refers to the condition whereby an individual lacks a permanent residence or dwelling such as an apartment or a home.
  • Housing First. This is a program implemented in the United States to house homeless citizens.
  • Human service professionals. This term refers to a professional whose role is to help communities, families, or individuals in an attempt to meet their needs.
  • Beneficiaries. Homeless people who have benefited from the Housing First program.

Theoretical Framework

Thesis statement. Programs such as the Housing First have been effective solutions to street homelessness based on the experiences of both human service professionals and beneficiaries.

The programs implemented in different states have managed to offer the required support to the some of the homeless people in the country. It is also clear that human service professionals have been using their concepts and models to improve the outcomes of many people who are housed under such programs. The professionals can establish positive relationships with underserved populations and affected children in order to deal with the problem (Manthorpe, Cornes, O’Halloran, & Joly, 2015). When the experiences of these individuals are clearly understood, it can be easier to understand how the programs can be supported to empower more beneficiaries.

Literature Review

Background Information

In 1988, the state of California recorded increased cases of street homelessness. The Beyond Shelter campaign was launched during the period in order to deal with the problem. This campaign led to the “Housing First” program that was implemented to support the homeless individuals in the state. The program has ever since become a powerful social policy that has continued to support the welfare of many homeless persons in the United States.

The program or policy is based on the notion that the first goal whenever dealing with a homeless person in the streets in to offer stable housing (Diebacker et al., 2015). After housing the individuals, a wide range of human services are delivered to the beneficiaries in order to promote their well-being.

Manthorpe et al. (2015) indicate that the Housing First program has been redesigned in such a way that it supports the changing needs of the targeted homeless persons. The aspects of the program are modified depending on the needs of the targeted population. Hines (2015) observed that many people who experience chronic homelessness have been able to receive long-term support and services from the program. Analysts have indicated that the Housing First has been a proven approach whereby individuals who have been affected by homelessness have been able to receive permanent housing. The fact that the beneficiaries do not have to fulfill any treatment precondition or requirements explains why the program has been successful.

Kallmen and Blid (2016) argue that the pioneers of the program strongly believed that the provision of appropriate services was the best approach that could be used to deal with the challenge of homelessness in many cities across the country. The implementation of the program has led to increased housing retention success rates. The requirement for crisis institutions and services has declined significantly within the past two decades (Manthorpe et al., 2015). The social and health outcomes of the targeted individuals have been improving.

Some researchers have outlined a number of reasons to explain why the program has supported the welfare of many homeless persons in the United States. For instance, most of the people planning to get housing were required to complete a lengthy application process and wait for approval from the relevant authorities (Hines, 2015). The Housing First program was presented in such a way that it minimized the application process. The strategy was able to streamline the housing plan and support the needs of many individuals.

The idea of long-term housing has emerged as an outstanding benefit of the Housing First program. A study by Isogai (2016) indicated that the beneficiaries of the program were able to get full legal protections and responsibilities after being housed under the program. The individuals were able to receive protections under the existing local and federal housing laws. The provision of different resources is something that has been supported by many analysts because it empowers many people to realize their potential.

The role of social workers, human service professionals, and counselors is something that has been observed to transform the experiences of many individuals after being housed under the program. According the specifications of the program, the beneficiaries are usually entitled to various supportive services. The main reason why such supportive services are available is “to ensure the beneficiaries maintain and achieve housing stability” (Manthorpe et al., 2015, p. 592). The program also does not force the housed persons to participate in such services. In order to record positive results, the human service professionals have been embracing a number of techniques. For instance, they have been empowering the individuals using a number of strategies such as therapies and provision of counseling services.

Homeless individuals affected by drug abuse or substance use are equipped with the right skills in order to re-pattern their lives. Motivational approaches are usually provided to the beneficiaries so that they can lead better lifestyles. In some states, human services professionals have been working hand in hand with the targeted clients in order to pursue their goals in life. They also benefit from additional assistance and welfare programs that are aimed at empowering them.

A study conducted by Kallmen and Blid (2016) indicated that the strategies undertaken by different social workers and counselors were making it easier for more beneficiaries to lead better lives. With proper support, the program was seen as one of the best solutions that could be used to tackle the problem of street homelessness in the country and across the world (Manthorpe et al., 2015).

The program has received much attention within the past one decade because it is less costly and sustainable. The approach has also been observed to provide long-lasting solutions to most of the problems affecting many homeless persons in the country (Hines, 2015). Whenever combined with the services and training campaigns aimed at empowering the beneficiaries, the Housing First program has been able to support the needs of many people. It has been embraced because of its potential to tackle the increasing housing affordability gap in the country.

Current Gaps in Knowledge

Different programs have been implemented in the United States in order to deal with street homelessness in the United States. Such programs have been aimed at stabilizing individual provision of shelter (Kallmen & Blid, 2016). The government has been implementing different assistance programs in order to support the beneficiaries. The ultimate goal has been to eliminate homelessness in the nation.

Some of these approaches have been supported by different policymakers and state departments (Diebacker et al., 2015). Unfortunately, the current knowledge or literature does not show conclusively how the programs such as the Housing First have benefited the targeted individuals (Isogai, 2016). The inclusion of different social workers and human service professionals is something that has supported these programs.

Addressing Such Gaps

The proposed study therefore seeks to understand the effectiveness of the Housing First program to street homelessness. In order to collect adequate information, the study will focus on the experiences of human service professionals and beneficiaries targeted by the program. The collected information will reveal the major benefits and advantages of the Housing First program. The study will present powerful insights to strengthen the program and make it beneficial to the greatest number of homelessness people in different parts of the world.

The gaps and difficulties encountered by the human service professionals providing assistance to individuals targeted under the program will be identified and used to improve the program (Manthorpe et al., 2015). The completed study will therefore widen the current literature and ensure more agencies implementing powerful policies to support every homeless person in the country.

References

Diebacker, M., Arhant, Y., & Harner, R. (2015). Parenting within homelessness: A qualitative study on the situation of homeless fathers and social work in homeless support services in Vienna. European Journal of Homelessness, 9(2), 87-111. Web.

Hines, S. (2015). . Web.

Isogai, S. (2016). . Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28(3), 67-78. Web.

Kallmen, H., & Blid, M. (2016). Free from homelessness: Is “Housing First” the solution? – A comparison with the “Staircase Model”: A feasibility study. International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine, 2(1), 1-6. Web.

Manthorpe, J., Cornes, M., O’Halloran, S., & Joly, L. (2015). . The British Journal of Social Work, 45(2), 587-599. Web.

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