Homelessness in the United States

Homelessnessin theUnited States

Homelessnessin theUnited States

Homelessis currently an issueof concernforthestakeholders in thesocialservicesector,whoincludethegovernmentofficials,non-governmental agencies,andthesociety.Statistics showsthatabout 633,782 peopleare homelessin theU.S. andaboutone out of everyfifty childrenat theriskof becominghomeless(Cortes, Henry &amp Cruz, 2012). Thefactthatthehighnumberof peoplejoiningthehomelesspopulationis eitherchildrenoryouthsmakestheissueevenworse.Thispaperwill addressthebiologicalas wellas socialfactorsthat causehomelessness in theU.S. Although homelessness is associatedwith a largenumberof factors,mentalillnesses(suchas schizophrenia), post-traumaticstressdisorder,substanceabuse,anddysfunctional familiesare themajorcausesof homelessness in theU.S.

Biologicalfactors

Mentalillness:Schizophrenia

Mentalillnessis among&nbsptheleadingfactorsthat increasetheriskof beinghomelessin theUnited States. Researchshowsthatabout 200,000 homelesspeoplein theUnited States sufferfrom schizophrenia (Mental Health Initiative, 2010). Thisconstitutesabout 20 % of thetotalpopulationof homelesspeoplenationwide.Surprisingly, schizophrenia that has subjectedmanyAmericans to theriskof beinghomelessis manageableifthepropermedicationcoupledwith counseling isgiven.Their mentalconditionsbecomemoredebilitating in theabsenceof propertreatment,which increasethechancesthat thesepeoplewill remainhomelessfortherestof their lives.

Thedeclinein government’ssupporthas contributedtowards makingSchizophrenia one of theleadingcausesof homelessness in theUnited States. First,studieshaveshownthatthegovernmenthas failedto provideadequateresourcesto financethementalhealthcarefacilitiesin orderto enhancetheir capacityto addressthehealthneedsof theincreasingpopulationof mentallyill.Forexample,Hoffman (2013) identifiedthatthefederalgovernmentreducedits budgetary allocation forthementalillnessfacilitiesby $ 4.35 billion between 2009 and2012. Thestategovernmentshavefollowedthesametrend.Forexample,thegovernmentof South Carolina reducedreducesits budgetary allocation by 30 % forthesameperiod(Hoffman, 2013). Thedeclinein thegovernment’sfinancinghas reducedthecapacityof thementalillnessfacilitiesto admitthegrowingnumberof Schizophrenic patients,thusincreasingtheir chancesof becominghomeless.

Psychologicaldisorder:Post-traumaticstressdisorder

TheAmericans whohaveundergonetraumatizing situationsin thepastare at a higherriskof becominghomelesscomparedto thegeneralpopulation.In mostcases,veteranswhohaveengagedin variousbattlessufferfrom posttraumatic stressdisorderduring theoldage,which increasetheir riskof becominghomeless.Forexample,DeAngelis (2013) identifiedthat1.97 % of theveteranswhowereinvolvedin warsin Afghanistan andIraq sufferedfrom PTSD andeventuallybecamehomeless.OtherstudieshaveindicatedthattheU.S. homelessveteransaccountforabouta third of thehomelessAmericans inspiteofthefactthattheyconstituteonlya 10 % of thetotalpopulation(Jilani, 2011).

Thedeadlyexperiencesthatthemilitaryofficerundergoesin thebattlesaffectthem psychologically, especiallywhenadequatecounseling servicesare not offeredsoonafter thewars.In mostcases,militaryofficersescapedeathnarrowlyandseetheir colleaguesdiein thefieldorevendiein their handsfollowingseriousinjuriesthat theysustainfrom thebattlefields.Theseexperiencesremainin their memoriesafter thebattle,causingseverestress.Thestressgraduatesto a severecondition,post-traumaticstress,which is responsibleforthehomelessof themajorityof veteransin theU.S. (DeAngelis, 2013). Insomecases,PTSD may leadto permanentbraindamage,wheretheaffectedindividualsendup livingin thestreets.

Socialfactors

Dysfunctionalfamily

Dysfunctionalfamiliesarecharacterizedby conflictsbetween parents,childneglect,childabuse,childmisbehavior,andnegativeattachment.All thesefeaturesof a dysfunctional familyresultin conflictsthat subjectsomeof thefamilymembersto theriskof becomingejectedfrom thehouse.Currently, familydisputesare classifiedamong themostcommonfactorsthat resultin homelessness in theUnited States. Accordingto Woulfe (2013) about 1,546 peoplejointhehomelesspopulationeachyearin theUnited States. Out of 1,546 people,about 673 are womenwhoarekickedout of their homesby otherfamilymembers,especiallythehostilehusbands.Familydisputesbreakdown alllivingarrangements,which makeitdifficultforthefamilymembersto coexist.

Trendsshowthatthenumberof youthsandchildrenwhoare at theriskof beingejectedout of thehomeis increasingwith time.Forexample,Woulfe (2013) identifiedthatabout 4,750 peopleaged16-24 yearshadfoundthemselves without a homeorat a highriskof becominghomelessas a resultof thebreakdownof thelivingarrangementsbetween 2013 and2014.Someof thedevelopmentstagesof theyouthsandchildrenwhoaresubjecteddysfunctional familiesare affected.Thisreducestheir motivationto pursuetheir goalsin life,thusincreasingtheriskof remaininghomelessfortherestof their life.

Substanceabuse

Substancedependenceisboth aleadinganda consequencefactorin theprogressof homelessness in theUnited States. Itisestimatedthatalcoholdependenceaccountsforabout38 % of homelessness cases,whileothertypesof harddrugsaccountfor25 % cases(National Coalition fortheHomeless, 2009). Alcoholdependenceis commonamong theolderhomeless,whiledependenceon othertypesof drugsis commonamong theyouths.However,theeffectof substancedependencemay be combinedwith othersocialfactors(suchas socialstress),which intensifiestheriskof becominghomeless.Forexample,a studyconductedby theU.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (2015) indicatedabout 70 % of thehomelessveteransweredependenton drugs,which suggestthattheir pastexperiencescombinedwith substanceabusewerethemajorfactorsthat resultedin their homelessness.Moreover,substanceabuseis attributedto a declinein one’s motivation,which in turnincreasestherisksof remaininghomeless.Substanceabusemay alsoresultin psychologicaldisordersamong theaffectedpeople.

Conclusion

Homelessis currently is currentlya troubling issuein theUnited States giventhatthenumberof peoplejoiningthispopulationis increasingexponentially. Homelessnessis causedby differentfactors,butbiological(includingPTSD andschizophrenia) andsocialfactors(suchas substanceabuseanddysfunctional families)are morecommonamong theU.S. population.Schizophrenia has renderedabout 200,000 peoplehomelessin theU.S. Although PTSD can affectanymemberof thesociety,itmainlyaffectsveteranswhohaveencounteredtraumatizing experiences.Familydisputesbreakdown livingarrangements,which makeshomesinhabitable forsomefamilymembers.Substanceabuse,on theotherhandreducespeople’smotivationto pursuetheir goalsin lifeandendup becominghomeless.

References

Cortes,A., Henry, M. &amp Cruz, R. (2012). The 2012 point-in-time estimatesof homelessness. AnnualHomeless Assessment,1, 1-24.

DeAngelis,T. (2013). More PTSD among homeless vets. AmericanPsychology Association,44 (3), 22.

Hoffman,P. (2013, May 6). More mentally ill becoming homeless because thestate won’t help. Truthout.Retrieved March 27, 2015, fromhttp://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/16193-more-mentally-ill-becoming-homeless-because-states-wont-help

Jilani,Z. (2011). PTSD awareness day: Five ways PTSD hurts U.S. soldiers.ThinkProgress.Retrieved March 27, 2015, fromhttp://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/27/255231/ptsd-awareness-day-5-ways-ptsd-hurts-u-s-soldiers/

MentalHealth Initiative (2010). Schizophreniafacts and statistics.Washington, DC: Mental Health Initiative.

NationalCoalition for the Homeless (2009). Substanceabuse and homelessness.Washington, DC: NCH.

U.S.Interagency Council on Homelessness (2015). Substanceabuse.Washington, DC: U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Woulfe,J. (2013, March 26). Report: Family disputes the most common cause ofhomelessness. Examiner.Retrieved March 27, 2015, fromhttp://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/report-family-disputes-the-most-common-cause-of-homelessness-226486.html