Proposed Solutions to the Issue of Homelessness

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 6
Words: 1512
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: College

Introduction

Homelessness is one of the topical social issues in the US. A homeless person is defined as the one who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (The Council of Economic Advisers 8). According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in 2019, there were 567,715 homeless people in America (“State of Homelessness”). Individuals become homeless for various reasons, including job loss, rising rent, a lack of affordable prices, and the transition from public facilities such as hospitals, prisons, army, or child welfare services. This paper aims to establish the significance of the problem and propose solutions to address homelessness. It will be argued that providing homeless people with training and employment, building affordable houses, and teaching people to manage their personal finances may be viable solutions to the issue of homelessness.

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The Significance of the Problem

Although the US government makes efforts to reduce homelessness rates, the problem persists in the country. On a single night, 0.2% of the total US population are homeless, which is 17 individuals per 10,000 of the population (The Council of Economic Advisers 9). While most states managed to decrease the number of homeless individuals, some states have seen an increase in these rates (“State of Homelessness”). The states with the highest homelessness rate are the District of Columbia, New York, Hawaii, Oregon, and California, which account for 45% of all homeless people in the US (The Council of Economic Advisers 9). Among these states, California has the highest percentage of unsheltered homeless people, especially in such cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Santa Rosa (The Council of Economic Advisers 10). Thus, there are still many people in America living in shelters or on the streets, so this problem needs to be solved.

The issue of homelessness is caused by several different factors. First, rising housing prices make renting or buying a house unaffordable for people. Prices rise because demand exceeds supply, and it happens because the government imposes strict regulations that restrict housing supply (The Council of Economic Advisers 11). Another reason for persisting homelessness is that the government tries to solve this problem by funding the establishment of numerous shelters. While shelters help accommodate homeless people, they do not address the root of the problem because they prevent people from finding a fixed and regular dwelling (The Council of Economic Advisers 19). Finally, there are some employment issues that contribute to homelessness. Homeless individuals either do not earn enough to afford to pay rent or cannot get a job because of their homeless status (Polner). Understanding the factors influencing homelessness rates is crucial to developing viable solutions to this problem.

Proposed Solutions

Training and Employment

Based on the established significance and the identified causes of the problem, several solutions can be proposed. The first solution is aimed at addressing the employment issues concerned with homelessness. Since people often become homeless because they cannot afford to pay rent, it may be assumed that they perform some low-paying and unskilled jobs or are jobless. Therefore, one possible solution to the problem of homelessness is helping people get a job that would allow them to pay for their housing. This solution could be implemented by companies engaged in various industries. These companies could provide vocational training to homeless individuals and hire them afterward. For example, people can be trained to work as baristas, warehouse or factory workers, plumbers, call-center representatives, and others. Implementing this solution is likely to provide homeless people with income, which they could spend on rent.

One may object that companies have no interest in training homeless people when there are many other candidates with a better social background. However, this measure would be beneficial for companies as well. First, helping people cope with homelessness can be part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, that is, efforts directed to contributing to societal goals. This could, in turn, improve the organization’s image in the eyes of potential and existing customers. Second, homeless individuals are not some second-rate people to be neglected in employment. Many of them appeared on the street by chance because of a divorce or military discharge, and this misfortune does not make them less worthy job candidates than others. Finally, if a company worries about whether the training costs spent on homeless people will pay off, it can sign a contract with trainees. According to the contract, they will have to work in the company for a certain period, for example, one to three years. Thus, providing employment to the homeless seems to have benefits for both companies and the disadvantaged population.

Building Affordable Housing

The second proposed solution is to build affordable houses instead of expensive ones. Currently, the construction of houses is mainly done by private companies. Since such companies are focused on getting profits rather than solving social issues, they build homes for people with high incomes. As a result, the housing market is saturated with houses for the rich, which are not affordable for people with low incomes. In order to fix this situation, the government should fund the construction of affordable housing. It is suggested that cheap apartments with all the necessary conveniences in multistoried buildings would be the best choice because they can also address the problem of a lack of free space in cities. One may object that apartments are less comfortable and roomy than houses. This is indeed so, but when one is homeless, moving to an affordable apartment is better than sleeping on the streets. Over time, when people improve their financial situation, they can choose a more expensive and comfortable home.

One may argue that the government has no funds to allocate to the building of such affordable housing. While the federal budget is indeed limited, there are possible ways of finding the money for the construction. Currently, the government allocates funds to building and maintaining shelters for the homeless. However, it has been mentioned above that shelters do not reduce homelessness because they encourage people to stay in temporary dwellings rather than find fixed and regular residences. Spending money on more shelters, therefore, seems unfeasible for solving the problem of homelessness. So, the government might invest the money allotted to shelters in building affordable houses for low-income households.

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Managing Personal Finances

The final suggested solution to the issue of homelessness is teaching people to manage their personal finances. Many people in America live from paycheck to paycheck, with no reserve money saved up for emergencies. As a result, when they lose their jobs, get divorced, become hospitalized, or face other issues, they go broke and can no longer afford to make their monthly payments for housing. Teaching people to track their income and spending, save up money, make investments and protect their finances would improve their financial standing and help them withstand the blows of life. At the very least, individuals have to learn to keep track of what they spend their money on and reduce unnecessary spending. For example, an average American changes his or her car every 4-6 years, while the vehicle can serve at least ten years. To avoid unnecessary spending, Americans could use their cars longer or utilize public transport instead. They can also fix things when possible instead of buying new ones. Finally, Americans can become less reliant on loans by purchasing items they can afford without using their credit cards.

Certainly, watching and limiting one’s spending is likely to worsen one’s short-term comfort. Adhering to this practice would mean that, for example, instead of buying the latest iPhone, a person should consider purchasing a more affordable but less fashionable model. Some people may be highly reluctant to it because it does not align with their habitual mindset. However, living within one’s means while saving up for a better quality of life in the future seems to be a feasible way of preparing for many life issues, including the risk of becoming homeless. Therefore, the government should promote personal finance management, particularly reasonable spending and saving up, in schools, on TV, and via other communication channels.

Conclusion

To sum up, homelessness is a topical social issue in contemporary America. The problem is mainly being solved by building shelters for homeless people and providing them with various social services. While homeless individuals indeed need help from social workers, healthcare professionals, and other specialists, shelters do not seem to contribute to the reduction of homelessness. In this essay, three possible solutions to the issue have been proposed. The first solution is training and hiring homeless people to provide them with a steady income so that they could afford to pay rent. Second, the government should allocate enough funds to building affordable housing. Multistoried buildings with cheap apartments can be an option in big cities where there is a lack of free land. Third, people should learn to manage their personal finances, giving appropriate attention to the items on their spending list and the amounts they can regularly save up. This would make people prepared for emergencies and decrease their risk of becoming homeless.

Works Cited

The Council of Economic Advisers. The State of Homelessness in America. 2019, Web.

Polner, Robert. “The 12 Biggest Myths about Homelessness in America.” New York University, 2019, Web.

“State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2020, Web.