Essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

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Essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

Six Word Memoir: Homelessness: Spare change, but make change

Introduction

It has almost become customary to talk about homelessness as a crisis, but not a major social justice issue and outcome of a failed system. Some individuals believe that homeless mostly emanates from personal choices and their consequences and as such, should not be contemplated as a crisis or a social justice issue. In my own discernment, a crisis is something that has attained a critical status and failure of people to respond appropriately could result in a catastrophe. Based on this definition, homelessness is not considered to be a crisis. However, homelessness has continued to persist from one decade to another to the point whereby it has become status quo. The fact that homelessness has become status quo is even worse given that it is the vivid and brute reflection of the society. This is because it is a portrayal of the social injustice that exists in the society that results in various individuals becoming homeless. Nonetheless, the treatment of homelessness as a crisis portrays urgency; a situation that normally provokes rush or short-term mitigation efforts such as handing homeless people money or having shelters for the homeless. There are forces, decisions and steps that lead up to an individual becoming homeless. As a result, homelessness can only be addressed effectively as a social justice issue and logical outcome of a failed system and by facilitating real change rather than short-term solutions.

Popular Perspectives-essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

Homelessness is a tricky subject when it comes to public opinion. The reason I say it is tricky is because it is not one of those issues that trigger intense emotional reactions from people or is considered to be at the precipice of social injustice. Almost every individual has feelings of sympathy and empathy for the homeless except for the situations whereby an individual had a bad experience with homeless people such as being robbed. The difference in public opinion regarding homeless mostly exists when people have discourses about the causes of homelessness and whether it should be treated as a crisis or social injustice. People who believe that homelessness is a crisis and social injustice base their assertions on their encounters and conversations with homeless people in the streets and shelters, as well as, seeing their family members or friends becoming homeless. For instance, people who volunteer in shelters for homeless people interact with the homeless individuals and find out that in various occasions they are educated people who once had jobs and houses. In another example, an individual who sees his or her friend or family member become homeless due to loss of a job, repossession of their house or family disagreement and divorce is bound to have a perspective of homelessness that leans towards it not only being a crisis but also a critical social justice issue.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that homelessness is not a crisis, nor is it a social justice issue. Such individuals base their assertions on the fact that homelessness has existed through the decades and will continue to exist in the future. As such, it is not a crisis that demands long-term solutions. When it comes to homelessness not being a social justice issue, people who hold this opinion base their belief on negative encounters with homeless individuals such as being robbed, shot or injured by a homeless person or the fact that they reckon homelessness is a consequence of people’s own decisions and choices and as such, should not be treated as a social justice issue. The latter argument could be due to poor financial decisions by a person, disdainful and delinquent demeanor that gets one thrown out from their family house or divorce emanating from infidelity that results in one losing their homes to their spouses.

Academic Perspective-essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

Based on research conducted by Petrenchik (2006), just like poverty, homelessness is a problem that has existed in varying degrees since historic times. Efforts to define and address homelessness as a crisis or a social justice issue also have an equally long history. Thus, popular perspectives and media, as well as, literature on homelessness are home to discordant explanations, perspectives and characterizations of homelessness (Petrenchik, 2006). This finding is espoused by the article by Weebly.com (2015) that states that homelessness is a social problem that every nation faces. Countries throughout the world are affected by homelessness, albeit it exists in distinct forms depending on the social, cultural, political and economic settings. The most common types of homelessness are statutory homelessness, rough sleeping and hidden or disguised homelessness. Statutory homelessness is homelessness that is legally defined in that people apply to local authorities to recognize their homelessness and provide assistance in form of shelters and food. Hidden homelessness entails staying in squats, hostels, concealed housing or overcrowded accommodation whereby people sleep on the sofas or floors of family and friends. The most visible form of homelessness is rough sleeping whereby people sleep on the streets.

According to Shier, Johns and Graham (2010) in as much as most people sympathize and empathize with homeless people, negative public stereotypes and perspectives of homelessness is a critical issue that needs to be addressed in order to surmount the stigma shelters providing services, people who are homeless and policies to prevent homelessness. The most popular negative public perception of homeless individuals sleeping in the streets and living in “skid row” districts is that they are lethargic and uninterested in permanent work and their poor decisions in life made them end up being homeless (Shier, Johns and Graham, 2010). It is such negative perceptions of homelessness that hinder the ability of the society to recognize homelessness as a crisis and a social justice issue despite the continued increase in the number of people who are homeless, especially those who were previously employed and had decent accommodations.

Personal Perspective-essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

Having interacted with some homeless people and provided financial assistance in certain occasions, I believe that homelessness is not only a crisis but also a major social justice issue. This is because homelessness can affect many individuals at discordant age levels. Homelessness goes beyond the physical lack of a place to live or roof over someone’s head. It is accompanied by the both physical and psychological trauma. When you take a walk in certain neighborhoods at night, you see women and men sleeping in rows on the streets, on cardboard mats along sidewalks or in makeshift tents, with the population also comprising of disabled people and people with mental disorders. They are exposed to drugs such as crystal meth and heroin that are easily available, physical violence, sexual assault and criminals preying on them. The sad reality is that most people who are homeless on the streets have not chosen to live like that. They are just people who are merely down on their lack and have been exposed to the cruel side of the world in the form of relationship or family breakdowns, drugs and alcohol abuse, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence and unaffordable housing among others. This shows that there are root causes of the problem of homelessness.

Unfortunately, homelessness is only seen as a crisis when the number of homeless people on the streets or in neighborhoods grows to a point whereby it is seen as excessive. It is at this point that homelessness is addressed as an urgent problem by providing provisional shelters for the homeless and beddings. Nonetheless, sparing some change for the homeless and providing temporary assistance in form of shelters and beddings are only immediate and short-term responses and not long-term solutions that address the root causes of homelessness. A good place to start is by viewing homelessness as a crisis, but as a crisis that is also a social justice issue which is the logical outcome of a failed system so as to come up with effective long-term solutions. Societies have deinstitutionalized but not provided alternatives, deindustrialized but not retrained people, subsidized and protected the prevailing housing but failed to build affordable units. Having these in mind will go a long way in addressing homelessness.

Reflection-essay on Perspectives of Homelessness and Effective Solutions

It is almost impossible to work along the streets without seeing or encountering a homeless person. While some people will give them some money, others will shun them and deem them lazy people who are not interested in working. I believe this difference in opinion is the reason why homelessness is not contemplated as a crisis or a social justice issue in need of long-term solutions. As such, I wanted to research on the various perspectives and explanations of homelessness held by people, institutions and governments. I also wanted to research on the current solutions undertaken by various institutions, local authorities and governments to address homelessness. The scholarly articles and popular website I read and visited respectively were unbiased in their findings and portrayal of homelessness, public perceptions of homelessness, efforts aimed at addressing homelessness and whether they are effective or not. I learned from the sources that homelessness is a problem that has existed for many decades and the efforts in place to address the problem such as temporary accommodation or shelters, financial assistance and provision of beddings and food are mostly temporary despite the increasing number of homeless people. In as much as the academic and popular sources were beneficial, I felt that the information I got from them was still insufficient to fully describe the problem of homelessness and how to properly address it through its root causes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Petrenchik, T. (2006). Homelessness: Perspectives, Misconceptions, and Considerations for Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapy In Health Care, 20(3), 9-30. doi: 10.1300/j003v20n03_02

Shier, M., Jones, M., & Graham, J. (2010). Perspectives of Employed People Experiencing Homelessness of Self and Being Homeless: Challenging Socially Constructed Perceptions and Stereotypes. The Journal Of Sociology & Social Welfare, 37(4), 13-37.

Weebly.ccom. (2015). Homelessness from Different Perspectives. Retrieved from https://maddieirelandhomelessness.weebly.com/perspectives.html