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Homelessnessis one of the social crises affecting the United States the problememerged in the 1870s when many homeless people were reported to beliving in emerging urban centers. It is a complex social problemwith economic and social factors like poverty and lack of affordablehousing these causes are complex and interact to impact the problemas they interact. These numbers have been increasing since the greatdepression of the 1890s which caused homelessness, poverty and hungerin many citizens. The number increased in the 1930s when housing andservice cut increased with McKinney-VentoHomeless reporting that one of out of 50 children will be homelessevery year. However, astonishing statistics indicate that the numberrose to one in every 30 children in 2013 [ CITATION Ale13 l 1033 ].The easiest indicator that has been used to report this is the numberof children in school who lack a home address.
Homelesspeople experience a lot of problems in the context that they live in,like discrimination from the rest of the population. The problems arerelated challenges in health and social disadvantages that limitaccess to basic accommodation and other basic needs. Johnstone,Jetten, Dingle, Parsell, & Walter (2015)suggests that theaffected are forced to turn to others for social support andemotional balance of their feeling. Social identity approach andself-categorization theorists have concluded that people react todiscrimination by identifying with groups that have similarcharacteristics and cohesion to alleviate negative well-being or therejection-identification model.
Formalgroup pressures that have led to homelessness can be traced back tothe conservative, neo-classical fiscal policies of the Reaganadministration through policies that created over nine million poorpeople in the country leading to an increased urban underclass and awidened gap between the rich and the poor. It was further influencedby rising cost of housing, lack of safety bet expansion andsocio-political norms that stigmatized homelessness. However, theadministration started supporting homeless programs which gaveshelter to these groups. Anti-welfare Crusaders have argued thatthrowing money at social problems does not address it but ratherleads to extended problems that are associated with it. Welfarereforms were supposed to fix homelessness, but unfortunately, theyhave increased it through breaking the social fabric of society thusleading to increased out wedlock births which end up in welfarefacilities. These strategies for reducing homelessness should addressthe social causes that are related to it rather than offer incentivesfor the problem[ CITATION Shi10 l 1033 ].Welfare programs in America have formed campaign agenda for severalgovernments without really putting in strategies to address thenumber of people who fall to the streets. Offeringwelfare to the homeless has been described as making them comfortablewith the situation and doing nothing to change. Since some of thesepeople are born in the streets, grow up there and even marry whenthey are there, reducing this problem requires strategies beyondincentives given to the poor in the form of housing but ratherputting strategies in place to ensure reduced housing.
Onthe other hand, informal group pressures have been the major causesof homelessness, in America. Drug abuse, mental illness, rise indysfunctional and single mothers and the changing social fabric ofthe society are the main informal reasons that have increasedhomelessness. Places where these people gather offer an easyenvironment for drug abuse with the relationship between these drugtaking centers to homelessness, being two-fold. Much of the researchhas indicated a weakened family system that is full of domesticviolence and other related ills. Children, men and women findthemselves on the streets and homeless as a way of escaping domestictortures that they experience at home. Children are victims ofdomestic violence and run to streets to seek solace or live in freeworld where they run their own activities. Further, the homelessplaces and streets offer hide outs and environment for all socialills in the society like drug abuse [ CITATION Ale13 l 1033 ].Researchhas shown that drug abuse is more to the homeless as compared toother groups. These groups offer a social support environment andprotecting to each other against stigma and any other problem thatmay affect them.
Despitestrides that the government has made towards solving homelessness, inAmerica, this remains to be one of the biggest challenges of Americasince the problem is both structural and economical. Shinn (2010)suggests that gGovernment funding has limits and cannot solve allhomelessness, problems, however the surest way to solve this problemis to empower the society economically to be able to address theirproblems and thus weaken the structural characteristics thatexacerbate this problem. This problem has lasted long enough to bedeclared a national crisis since its magnitude is escalating beyondlevels that can never be mitigated. The government needs to asses andanalyze homeless policies to determine effective ways that can reducethe problem.
Alexander-Eitzman, B., Pollio, D. E., & North, C. S. (2013). The Neighborhood Context of Homelessness. American Journal of Publi health, 103(4), 679–685.
Johnstone, M., Jetten, J., Dingle, G. A., Parsell, C., & Walter, Z. C. (2015). Discrimination and well-being amongst the homeless: the role of multiple group membership. Fronntiers in Psychology, 6(739).
Shinn, M. (2010). Homelessness, Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United States and Europe. European Journal of Homelessness, 4, 19-44.