It is hard to imagine the American lifestyle without a home to live in. Modern popular culture and mass media create customary images of cozy little homes, stylish apartments, and elegant townhouses. Those conventional images lose the connection with real-life when we realize how dramatic the problem of homeless people is. According to Samuels, “On any given night in the United States, half a million people are homeless.” A living place is a basic necessity for every citizen of every country. The welfare of a person constitutes a fortune of the state. The U.S. Government should provide homes for homeless people and make sure that there are no houseless individuals in the streets of U.S. cities because addressing homelessness helps to resolve other issues, including crime, alcohol abuse, and unemployment.
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The situation with homeless people differs from one state to another, but common features of the issue and the ways the local authorities choose to deal with homelessness are similar. Local administrations are trying hard to reduce the number of people living in the streets. They are constantly looking for affordable ways to get people from the streets. An important thing, which is true for the country in general, is that it is cheaper to provide Housing for the homeless than pay for emergency housing, healthcare, and police services. Samuels claims that “Nationally, the average monthly cost of serving a family in an emergency shelter is $4,819”. Providing such families with Housing is about one thousand two hundred dollars a month. Time and time again, the statistics don’t lie – the state should do its best to provide permanent homes for homeless people. But what works to help the homeless get off the streets?
Samuels points out that “The government has tried to tackle the problem on nearly every level.” Millions of dollars have been spent, but reliable ways to solve the issue have not been found yet. Nevertheless, the undertaken steps help to work out a set of measures that can help to provide the homeless with real homes. The first possible step, according to Samuels, is affordable Housing as a longer-term solution in comparison with building shelters which are rather expensive. At the same time, developers complain that it is hard to build affordable housing. The possible solution is to provide the homeless with permanent, affordable housing and wraparound services (Samuels).
Additional services are important because when providing a home for a homeless person, the social workers often have to deal with mental illnesses, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse in people provided with homes. Quite often, such people cannot take care of themselves, so at least minimum provided services would be necessary. Having researched the problem of homeless Samuels asks a tricky question, “Why not stimulate the creation of affordable housing so as to assist both the chronically homeless and those who are homeless temporarily?” It is evident that having a home is not just good for a person; it is good for society, but very often, the economic situation makes the cost of Housing unaffordable, and at this moment, the hour has struck for the government regulations.
It was already mentioned that the situation with the homeless differs throughout the country. Due to this fact, a lot of solutions can be viewed and compared. According to Liss-Schultz, Los Angeles County has a population of 51,000 homeless. It is interesting that programs are providing Housing for these homeless help LA save money (Liss-Schultz). A good example is Project 50, which began in 2007 as a $3.6-million plan to provide 50 homeless with the social services they need. The project has proved to be effective, and the number of participants has increased to 133 people. Liss-Schultz points out that “The project yielded a net savings of $238,700, which is “equivalent to $4,774 for each apartment provided”. This example proves that investing in affordable housing can be an excellent way to solve social problems and contribute to economic development at the same time. That is why national regulation of such projects is required.
Loss Angeles is an excellent example of a successful program for homeless people. To understand the concept, it is necessary to turn to the people who make it come into life. The project supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky explains that front-end investment in stable Housing and social services is less expensive for the state. That is how the environment for providing the homeless with permanent homes and services they need is created. As soon as the work begins, new opportunities appear, and it is vital for the state to see these opportunities to be better involved.
One more example of saving the government’s money by spending it on homeless people is Housing First strategy applied in Utah back in 2005 to fix the problem of chronically homeless people. At that time, there were about two thousand homeless people in Utah. Homeless people got their homes, and after a while, it turned out that this program, Utah’s Homeless Task Force saved the state some money. Homeless people are by no means cheap for the budget. According to Surowiecki, “The average chronically homeless person used to cost Salt Lake City more than twenty thousand dollars a year.” Permanent Housing costs the state budget only eight thousand dollars”. The advantage is evident. Besides, the same is true elsewhere. Homeless people are more expensive for the state than people who get their home with Housing First program.
A vivid example of Housing First saving the government’s expenses is the situation in Uta in 2005. According to the strategy, homeless people were provided with homes. Soon it turned out that an average homeless used to cost the state more than twenty thousand dollars. They are providing a chronic homeless with permanent home costs Salt Lake eight thousand dollars a year. Similar results were received in other states. Research undertaken in Colorado has shown that the permanent homeless person costs the state as much as forty-three thousand dollars, while Housing that person is only seventeen thousand dollars. The statistics never lie. Housing First strategy saves money for the budgets of cities and states; when applied throughout the country, it can become a long-term solution for homelessness.
An illustrative example of a problem with homeless that has to be solved without any hesitation is the situation in the capital. According to Jamison, “The number of homeless people in the nation’s capital has declined 11 percent since last year”. This decline can be a long-awaited result of the county policy aimed at eliminating homeless by applying Housing First approach that “seeks to break down barriers among the agencies and departments.” According to the applied concept, not only homes are provided to those who do not have shelter but services as well. There are two types of people who don’t have shelter. They are permanent homeless who sent some years in the street, and those who become homeless because they can no longer afford to pay for their Housing. The general approach to these groups is the same. Nevertheless, when dealing with chronic homeless illnesses, addictions and abuses should be taken into considerations. It is easier to do so if basic services are provided as a part of the program because, through the satisfaction of needs, the behavior can be directed and controlled. Nowadays, the city authorities have to deal with homelessness-associated crimes on a regular basis.
The nation’s capital aggressively struggles to reduce the District’s rate of homelessness, “but the city’s homeless population of 7,473 remains higher than it was in 2015, and has increased 8.9 percent over the last five years” (Jamison). The main problem that has to be solved to reduce the number of homeless is to provide people with affordable Housing and prevent them from losing their homes in the course of some economic collapse. It is evident that some steps on the way of providing people with homes have been made, but a lot more has to be done.
Home is a fundamental necessity for every person. Unfortunately, the economic situation is making permanent Housing less affordable for many people throughout the country. The local authorities of numerous states have successfully applied Housing First initiative for housing homeless people. By doing so, they partially solved the problem of homeless and saved some money. Since Housing First has proved to be effective and efficient, it is highly desirable to promote this program on the national level. The welfare of the citizens should be the worry of the state.
Jamison, Peter. “D.C. Homeless Population Drops 11 percent, report says.” Washington Post, 2017. Web.
Liss-Schultz, Nina. “Study: Providing Housing For The Homeless Saves Government Money.” ThinkProgress. 2012. Web.
Semuels, Alana. “How Can the U.S. End Homelessness?” The Atlantic. 2016, Web.
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Surowiecki, James. “Home Free?” Newyorker. 2014, Web.