I spend time with the homeless, serving meals and hosting bingo nights in order to get to know them. When you hear personal stories about how health or other issues led to their homelessness, you begin to understand that there are many reasons a person becomes homeless. I don't believe we can "fix" this issue nor can we bring peace to the world, but we can address it by supporting and encouraging those who are homeless with our words and our actions.
Perhaps you could consider that you "fixed" the homelessness of one person today by acknowledging their presence with a smile (whether at a park, on a street corner or in a shelter). Your smile might be the catalyst for their believing in themselves. We never know the impact we have on others.
With every good wish!
I honestly do not have an answer to your question. I will say, though, that in order to fix a problem you first need to identify all the factors that are causing it. In my opinion, here are a few of the problems, in no particular order.
- If a land developer has 20 acres of land, and wants to build a new housing development, and can build an average of 6 houses per acre (120 houses), s/he can build "modest" $125,000 homes, at a cost of $60,000 each ($7.8 million profit); or higher end homes, say $275,000 each, at a cost of $90,000 per home ($22.2 million profit). Which would you choose to do? (I made up these numbers - I have no idea how much profit is made on a home---but, you can see the point)
- Gentrification: People are buying up the old run-down parts of the city where the rent is reasonable for people who barely get by. They then evict the people, tear down the housing, and build luxury condominiums. Again, $$$.
- Lending Policies: Some banks lend money to people to buy more expensive housing than they can afford. Or, extend credit in the form of credit cards, and people get over-extended, to where they owe too much. The interest rates on some of these cards are crazy 21%, so people can never get caught up. The late payment fees can also be high.
- The family unit is not as strong as it once was. Family members used to do more to help each other out. This included extended family - aunts, cousins, etc. There are many broken families. Divorce is more common.
- Girls used to stay home until they got married (really! )
- We are just coming out of 10 years of stagnant wages and little job growth (2008-2018). This really took a toll on people, and, trying to recover from that is difficult
- Job loss
- Financial Skills: Some people don't know how to manage the money they have, and make poor spending decisions. Part of this is because of advertising, some is because they want to keep up with other people, etc. As an example, the $1000 cell phone (at "only" $8/month).
- Criminal History
- Mental Illness
Social Service Programs
- Having worked in social services, I can say that some social service programs have misplaced priorities. Rather than truly trying to help people, they focus on "getting their numbers" to prove that the program is working. I was supposed to give people job referrals, and the time I spent helping them with resumes and interview skills was "wasted."They provide little follow-up support. In doing job placement, we were "successful" if a client got a job, and received compensation - even if that job lasted only 15 minutes!! That is not success. The problem with social service programs (my opinion) is first, they "measure" the wrong things, and secondly, everyone working there is trying to keep their jobs! The goal of social services should be to solve the crisis! That is, to get to a point where the agency is no longer needed (idealistic, I know ).
- I don't know enough about this to comment. I do know that I had little success in obtaining help for my clients through churches, even churches that the client belonged to! Yes, there are some organizations that help - like the Catholic St Vincent de Paul Society. I think Churches could do more.
Each of these need to be addressed to some degree. I believe the gov't subsidizes the "beautification" (gentrification) of the inner cities. I think some are trying to address the displaced residence issue. They could easily require the builders to also build affordable housing/apartments for the homeless, as part of the incentives package.
Another thing that has come along are tiny houses (450 sq ft). But, because they are now the "in" thing, prices are soaring. I have also seen (I think!) 3d-printed houses. I don't know anything about them. Not everyone wants a house, because they have to do the upkeep themselves, etc. so we also need affordable apartments.
If you are interested in this area, I would recommend majoring in a field such as Urban Studies/Urban Planning. There is a lot that needs to be done!
Kim recommends the following next steps:
I think every person who is fortunate not to be homeless can help the homelessness issue. For me, I look for ways that I can directly impact the situation. Sometimes it is bringing a hot meal to a homeless person on the street or handing over hygiene products. That doesn't fix the homelessness but it does show the individual that I care about their situation and I think may provide hope.
In addition, I donate to organizations that have a direct impact in helping homelessness.
The most important way I think we can all help is by voting in every election. I work in a state that does provide a lot of services to the homeless. To make sure this continues, I vote for bills/regulations where there is a positive impact for the homeless. Every vote counts!
As an individual you need to think of what is the best way you can help the situation and act on it.