Do you know that approximately 700,000 to 2 million people in America spend their nights on the streets everyday? Out of these people, thirty five percent are people with families, and twenty five percent are below the age of eighteen. Such shocking facts and statistics, that too in a first world country like America, make us wonder about the reasons behind this. So, what are the ways to overcome it? Let's discuss these queries in detail, by looking at the causes and solutions.
High Cost of Housing
One of the chief causes of homelessness is the high cost of renting apartments in many of the major cities in America such as New York, Virginia, California, etc. Compared to the earnings, the cost of housing is very high and thus, is not affordable for many people.
Unemployment and Low Income
It is seen that in America, the wages of the workers have not increased much in the last twenty five years and hence, have been unable to keep pace with the rising costs of living. Low wage workers are just able to meet the food requirements of their families through their income and are unable to afford the housing costs.
High Medical Costs
Everybody is aware that the medical costs in USA are very high. On top of that, the medical insurance costs can go up to USD 8000 a year for a family. People who belong to the lower class or lower middle class are unable to afford the insurance, and if by any chance there is a sudden illness or accident in such a family, the medical costs can render them homeless.
Drugs and Alcoholism
According to statistics, around twenty percent of the homeless population in America is into drugs and alcohol. These statistics also show that twenty five percent of the people who live on the streets suffer from a mental illness. Since they are unable to afford the medical costs, they remain inflicted with these conditions and continue to remain homeless.
Lesser Government Assistance
A chief reason behind homelessness in America is the slashing of housing programs in the 1980s' by the government. Even some of the social security programs devised for poor people such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), have seen many changes and cuts and are no longer beneficial for many homeless people. Both these things have made housing, food, and medical services very expensive for the poor.
Although the government has come up with various programs to assist the poor from time to time, the solutions are difficult to implement, as awareness of these government programs among the poor is very less. So, in order to eradicate this malice and help the homeless people, campaigns to educate them about the various government programs should be started.
It is also observed that the various housing and social security grant programs have been modified in the last twenty five years by the government in such a way that many homeless people do not fall in its purview and hence, are unable to derive its benefits. Sometimes, the procedure to get grants is so complicated that the poor people are unable to understand it. Thus, another thing that the government can do is to ease and simplify the norms with regards to housing and social security programs for the poor.
As the statistics show that many of the people on the streets are drug and alcohol abusers or are mentally ill. In order to tackle this, government should come up with free rehabilitation programs for them. These rehabilitation programs should be followed by some kind of vocational training or job skills program so that people after regaining their health, do not go back to living on the streets.
Homelessness can be eradicated, provided the government is serious about this issue. Instead of spending trillions of dollars in funding defense equipment, research, and other programs, government should first of all concentrate on ending poverty. Spending on war should be replaced by spending for uplifting the poor. The more egalitarian a society, the more peaceful it is.