The Plight of the Homeless in America

Plight of homeless in America

Over half a million Americans are experiencing homelessness. It has escalated to the point that Democrats are now campaigning on cleaning up homeless camps. To be sure, this isn’t a situation that was exclusively manufactured by the Democrats, but some of their policies are definitely not helping it.

Homelessness is nothing new to the United States. Homelessness started becoming a national issue in the 1820s. Yet, it seems that people can never get a grasp on solving such a pervasive issue. So, what causes homelessness in America, and what can be done about it?

Current State of Homelessness

Homelessness has been an increasing public safety and health issue, especially in cities. Last year, the pandemic had a significant impact on the homeless in regard to death rates. When looking at 20 United States urban areas,  the death of homeless went up by 77% over the last five years. As a result, the average lifespan of a homeless person is only 50 years old. According to this Policy Advice article, California has nearly 50% of the unsheltered homeless population and New York City has a full 20% of the sheltered homeless population.

The homeless have a significant population that suffers from mental health issues. In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that 36% of homeless people suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or both. About 25% of these individuals suffer from serious mental illnesses.  In addition, the homeless are plagued with addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Treatment Center, addiction and homelessness go hand and hand. About 38% of homeless people are addicted to alcohol, while 26% are suffering from chemical addictions. 

What Causes Homelessness? 

Until the 1980s, the United States believed that homelessness resulted from a moral crisis. That it was a loss of character that caused an individual to be without a home and live on the streets. While that mindset is still around, people do not become homeless because of a “moral crisis.”

We now recognize that there are a lot of factors that lead to living on the streets. Here are some of the things that can contribute to homelessness: 

  • Lack of Affordable Housing
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty
  • Low Wages
  • Drug Addiction
  • Mental Health

All of these categories should be familiar. After all, the United States is going through record-high inflation that effectively results in lower wages. There is a lack of affordable housing so now homeownership is out of reach for many Americans.

Ineffective  and Damaging Policies

If you look at the Biden administration, the federal government believes that there is not enough housing in America. However, it is initiatives like House America that are missing the point. As mentioned above, almost 50% of the homeless population suffers from a mental illness. The severity of these illnesses leads to many turning to street drugs, which poses other health and safety risks. It is the reason why the homeless problem is so pervasive in major cities, regardless of the housing situation. 

While the Biden administration is trying to hit one part of the homeless issue, the government is missing the pervasive issues with mental health and other factors that are leading to homelessness. At the moment, they are trying to repackage old homeless policies without addressing the real issues. 

In addition, the fact that the southern border is open and letting in millions of poor people along with record amounts of Fentanyl unchecked is definitely a factor. Many of the illegals are living on the streets or being dumped into homeless shelters, and more are arriving daily. We are not discounting the amazing work and help given at the local level by churches and other organizations.  However, the unsheltered homeless population in many of these cities is suffering needlessly. This isn’t a problem that we can allow to be mishandled or ignored.

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