Saturday, 26 March 2011
CASE 247 - Homelessness
Dark Days documentary by Marc Singer, music by DJ Shadow
Homelessness categorizes the condition of people without a regular dwelling because they are unable to acquire, maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country to country, or among different entities or institutions in the same country or region. The term homeless may also include people whose primary night-time residence is in a homeless shelter, a warming center, a domestic violence shelter or other ad hoc housing situation, even temporally family housing where whole families are housed in 1 room may be considered. Government homeless enumeration studies also include persons who sleep in a public or private place not designed for use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, as a 19 year old spent just a few nights on the streets and it wasn't pleasant.
Major reasons and causes for homelessness as documented by many reports and studies include:
Unavailability of employment opportunities.
Poverty, caused by many factors including unemployment and underemployment.
Lack of accessible healthcare. People who have some kind of chronic and weakening disease but cannot get healthcare either because they don't have money to afford it or because the government will not give it to them are simply too weak to go and work every day so they remain poor and homeless.
Abuse by government or by other people with power.
War or armed conflict.
Mental disorder, where mental health services are unavailable or difficult to access or as a result of deinstitutionalization. A United States Federal survey done in 2005 indicated that at least one-third of homeless men and women have serious psychiatric disorders or problems.
Disability, especially where disability services are nonexistent or poor performing.
Lack of affordable housing. An article in the November 2007 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported on a study of the cost of obtaining the "right to build" (i.e. a building permit, red tape, bureaucracy, etc.) in different U.S. cities. The "right to build" cost does not include the cost of the land or the cost of constructing the house. The study was conducted by Harvard economists Edward Glaeser and Kristina Tobio. According to the chart accompanying the article, the cost of obtaining the "right to build" adds approximately $600,000 to the cost of each new house that is built in San Francisco.
Relationship breakdown, particularly in relation to young people and their parents.
Prison release and re-entry into society.
Disasters, including but not limited to earthquakes and hurricanes.
Forced eviction – In many countries, people lose their homes by government order to make way for newer upscale high rise buildings, roadways, and other governmental needs. The compensation may be minimal, in which case the former occupants cannot find appropriate new housing and become homeless. Mortgage foreclosures where mortgage holders see the best solution to a loan default is to take and sell the house to pay off the debt. The popular press made an issue of this in 2008; the real magnitude of the problem is undocumented.
Foreclosures on landlords often lead to eviction of their tenants. "The Sarasota, Florida, Herald Tribune noted that,by some estimates, more than 311,000 tenants nationwide have been evicted from homes this year after lenders took over the properties."
Criminality-- Some homeless may have committed crimes and are therefore hiding from the authorities.
A substantial percentage of the U.S. homeless population are individuals who are chronically unemployed or have difficulty managing their lives effectively due to prolonged and severe drug and/or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse can cause homelessness from behavioral patterns associated with addiction that alienate an addicted individual's family and friends who could otherwise provide support during difficult economic times.
Increased wealth disparity and income inequality causes distortions in the housing market that push rent burdens higher, making housing unaffordable.
Dr. Paul Koegel of RAND Corporation, a seminal researcher in first generation homelessness studies and beyond, divided the causes of homelessness into structural aspects and then individual vulnerabilities.
Problems faced by people who are homeless
Main article: Discrimination against the homeless
The basic problem of homelessness is the human need for personal shelter, warmth and safety, which can be literally vital. Other basic difficulties include:
personal security, quiet, and privacy, especially for sleeping
safekeeping of bedding, clothing and possessions, which may have to be carried at all times
hygiene and sanitary facilities
cleaning and drying of clothes
obtaining, preparing and storing food in quantities
keeping contacts, without a permanent location or mailing address
hostility and legal powers against urban vagrancy.
Homeless people face many problems beyond the lack of a safe and suitable home. They are often faced with many social disadvantages also, reduced access to private and public services and reduced access to vital necessities:
Reduced access to health care and dental services.
Limited access to education.
Increased risk of suffering from violence and abuse.
General rejection or discrimination from other people.
Loss of usual relationships with the mainstream
Not being seen as suitable for employment.
Reduced access to banking services
Reduced access to communications technology
There is sometimes corruption and theft by the employees of a shelter as evidenced by a 2011 investigative report by FOX 25 TV in Boston wherein a number of Boston public shelter employees were found stealing large amounts of food over a period of time from the shelter's kitchen for their private use and catering.
Statistics for developed countries
In 2005, an estimated 100 million people worldwide were homeless.
The following statistics indicate the approximate average number of homeless people at any one time. Each country has a different approach to counting homeless people, and estimates of homelessness made by different organizations vary wildly, so comparisons should be made with caution.
European Union: 3,000,000 (UN-HABITAT 2004)
United Kingdom: 10,459 rough sleepers, 98,750 households in temporary accommodation (Department for Communities and Local Government 2005)
Canada: 150,000 (National Homelessness Initiative – Government of Canada)
Australia: On census night in 2006 there were 105,000 people homeless across Australia, an increase from the 99,900
Australians who were counted as homeless in the 2001 census
United States: According to HUD's July 2008 3rd Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, in a single night in January 2007, single point analysis reported to HUD showed there were 671,888 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide in the United States. Also, HUD reported the number of chronically homeless people (those with repeated episodes or who have been homeless for long periods, 2007 data) as 123,833. 82% of the homeless are not chronically homeless, and 18% are (6% Chronically Homeless Sheltered, 12% Chronically Homeless Unsheltered). Their Estimate of Sheltered Homeless Persons during a One-Year Period, October 2006 to September 2007, that about 1,589,000 persons used an emergency shelter and/or transitional housing during the 12-month period, which is about 1 in every 200 persons in the United States was in a homeless facility in that time period. Individuals accounted for 1,115,054 or 70.2% and families numbered 473,541 or 29.8%. The number of persons in sheltered households with Children was about 130,968.
Japan: 20,000–100,000 (some figures put it at 200,000–400,000) Reports show that homelessness is on the rise in Japan since the mid-1990s.
There are more homeless men than homeless women in Japan because it is easier for women to get a job (they make less money than men do). Also Japanese families usually provide more support for women than they do for men.
The homeless world cup