The Social Injustices of Homelessness

Essay by ab1273College, Undergraduate February 2004

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Homelessness is a growing social injustice in the United States. The degradation that these people face every day is terrifying. It is a crisis that we too often ignore, hoping it will restore itself. That assumption delivers a widespread lack of understanding about the facts that lead to homelessness. Homelessness exists as a problem that we should acknowledge and treat.

Recent data indicate that the average monthly income for people who are homeless is $367, less than half the federal poverty level for a single adult. This is ridiculous, especially for a family to live off of. In 14 states and 69 metropolitan areas, the entire maximum Supplemental Security Income benefits do not cover the Fair Market Rent for a one bedroom apartment, and no state in the nation offers SSI equal to the federal minimum wage. What good is the government doing? Keeping the homeless barely alive and on the streets, without any possibility to recover? Even harder a concept to grasp is that approximately 40 percent of adult males who are homeless are veterans.

The government should support the men who once supported and fought for their country. As many as 90 percent of people who are homeless have prior work experience and 15 to 20 percent currently have jobs. Homelessness is the failure of our society to provide adequate and affordable housing, and fair wages.

Homeless people often depend on the highest-cost public service systems. They need emergency room care, hospital psychiatric beds, detoxification centers, and residential treatment programs, due to the fact that one-third of the people who are homeless have serious mental illnesses, and more than one-half of them also have substance use disorders. Many people who are homeless and have addictive disorders want treatment, but the service system is ill-equipped to respond to...