Essay by sweet_lil_honey September 2005

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A person is defined as being homeless when he/she lacks a fixed nightime

shelter. Therefore, we must rethink our views on whom we regard as

homeless. On any given night 760,000 men, woman and children, have no

control over where they sleep, eat or go to the bathroom, which are all

vital daily human needs which we all appear to take for granted.

Homelessness is certainly not defined by those living in boxes, under

bridges or at subway gates. Homelessness is defined by a loss of control

over one's environment. Homelessness can result from violence to

rejection, to a breakdown of the family unit. The main cause of

homelessness is that friends, parents and relatives can no longer put up

with the homeless person. Homeless people are most commonly teenagers, as

they leave home wanting to explore the outside world, then later realise

that life is a lot more complicated and expensive than they thought.


results in them not being able to find permanent accommodation of their

own. Additionally One in seven Scottish households are overcrowded, so it

is not unusual that friends and relatives would eventually want to enjoy

the privacy of their own homes. It is natural that young people would

eventually want to take the next step of leaving home, to begin lives of

their own, they should not under any circumstance be forced out by

overcrowding or family problems, resulting in them becoming homeless.

Children who are homeless are one of the fastest growing segments of the

general homeless population as, for every four homeless persons, one of

them will be a child. Families with children make up 37% of people without

homes. When children become homeless, they face additional setbacks such

as lack of stable education. Requirements of legal guardianship lack of a

permanent address and immunization records often delay or prevent homeless

children from enrolling in schools and receiving an adequate education.

Without a chance to get an education, children who are homeless are often

unable to gain the necessary skills they will need to escape from the

poverty that led them to become homeless in the first place. Hence, a

vicious cycle is set in motion where poverty results in homelessness and

homelessness, through the obstruction of education, leads to future

poverty for the children.

Homelessness also singles out other groups of people such as the sick. For

example, the lack of affordable housing is a grave concern for people

living with HIV/AIDS. Unsympathetic employers often sack those carrying

the dreadful disease and medicine is expensive and HIV positive people can

as a result find themselves homeless. Many homeless youths, left with no

other options, find that exchanging sex for food, shelter and clothing is

their only chance for survival. As a result, homeless adolescents are at a

greater risk of contracting AIDS compared to their peers with welcoming

homes. It has been estimated that between 3% to up to 20% of people are

HIV positive.

Another group affected by homelessness is the elderly. A 1992 Urban

Institute Study found that up to 31% of homeless individuals were over the

age of 45 and this percentage is unfortunately growing. With less income

from work and more necessary expenditures such as medicine, countless

elderly people have to make a choice between food, shelter and medication.

Every human being has a primary and fundamental right to adequate food and

shelter. Yet so many people in the world are deprived of this basic right,

this right entitlement to a warm bed at night, in a place called home.