Homelessness Affects All of Us
Homelessness isn’t someone else’s issue. It has a ripple effect throughout the community. It impacts the availability of healthcare resources, crime and safety, the workforce, and the use of tax dollars. Further, homelessness impacts the present as well as the future. It benefits all of us to break the cycle of homelessness, one person, one family at a time.
People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless.
Homelessness is a growing problem among families, particularly families with children. If youth are subject to homelessness they are also subject to health hazards that are easily acquired by living on the streets such as communicable diseases. Also, children experiencing homelessness are four times more likely to show delayed development and twice as likely to have learning disabilities as non-homeless children.
Sadly, Youth is a growing demographic among America’s homeless. Nationwide, homelessness among K-12 age students saw a 10 percent rise from 1,065,794 to 1,168,354. According to the US Department of Education.
These children are our future workers and leaders. The current social impact is clear, and we would also be wise to consider the long term economic impact of a future workforce that has not been able to study in a safe environment, a future workforce that is vulnerable to weather and disease. These deprivations during childhood can have a lasting negative impact on a person’s ability to get the education necessary to find a good-paying job. This, in turn, has a negative impact on the economic health of the whole community.
Severe medical problems are rampant in this population. Chronic health problems go untreated or undertreated. More prevalent problems like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease lead to secondary complications, including strokes, heart failure, other neurological problems, and visual disturbances.
People have a perception of the homeless that revolves around them not putting an effort to get themselves out of their situations. The reality is that a lot of people who are homeless do try to get out of their situations but they are not allowed to do so. It’s possible that a lot of people who are living in poverty try to get a job or better their situation but people won’t give them the opportunity.
There have been times when people try to get job interviews but they are rejected because of their appearance. Sadly, our society focuses more on the way someone looks rather than a person’s character. By these standards, how is anyone living on the street supposed to get a job when they don’t even have a place to shower?
On average, homeless people die at just 44 years old.
Although there are shelters that house people who are on the street, they are not enough for the number of people in demand for them. Shelters provide housing to those that are there when they open their doors. People are never guaranteed a spot. These people sacrifice the time they could be used to find an alternative place to stay the night. This happens every day.
The blame is always on the individual when the blame should be on the society that we live in. The stigmas that we help promote only prolong this problem. We need to look at the way we as a society treat individuals who don’t share the same opportunities that some of us are so fortunate to have. If we want to help improve the world we live in then we need to start by helping each other.