The Homeless


The Homeless Essay, Research Paper

Homelessness is a very large problem that America has come to face with. Millions of people, including

children, families, babies, veterans, and the elderly live day by day without food, water, a roof over their

head, or love. People that are mentally ill also have to tough it out on the streets, which can be very

confusing to them, and dangerous to us. This problem must be solved soon, because it’s not getting better

fast enough.

People have not always had to suffer with homelessness. Though the problem has almost always

existed, it had not reached a severe level until the early 1970’s. With every war there has been a small

trickle of homeless veterans to follow, but the Vietnam war and Korean war left a wave of many people

without anywhere to go. This was just the start of the problem. Many homeless people lived in places

called Skid Row. A place with cheap bars, entertainment, and very cheap housing in buildings called SROs,

or Single Room Occupancy. They could be rented from .50 to .90 cents a night. Then cities started to

grow, and in the mid 1970s One million SROs were replaced with parking lots, buildings and apartments.

Skid Row eventually vanished. Then the government decided to decriminalize drunkenness, loitering, and

vagrancy. That means there were a great many homeless people that would normally be arrested under

these conditions, still roaming the streets. Women and children started to f!

ilter in to the homeless scene, and then in a huge recession in the 1980s 11,000,000 people were laid off

(9.7% of all jobs). The numbers of homeless people soared. It didn’t stop here though. President Reagan

and Bush dropped public housing funds from 30 billion dollars to 6.7 billion, a net loss of 37,800 houses

per year. By the beginning of the 1990s, over one million people were on waiting lists for homes.

Homeless people can be categorized into four basic categories, families, lone, transient, or bums.

A person in a family is usually a man and wife with one to many children living on the streets. A lone

person is that who has no connection to anybody and never travels, but stays in the same general area. A

transient is a person who never settles down for more than a few weeks, but keeps moving throughout cities

by means of walking and hitch hiking. Within these categories are sub-categories. These sub categories are

taken from a random group of 1,000 homeless people, and what their numbers would be.



Lone Individuals780

Under 19146


Elderly Men17

Veterans Men188

Mentally Disabled Men125

Disabled Men28

Full Time Jobs7

Part Time Jobs27



Bum (Undeserving Homeless)49

Even the people with full time jobs are in need of permanent residence. These people live on

eating scraps of food from trash cans, and possible meals from shelters on occasion, but those are usually

three times a week at dinner, or some other type of schedule. People who have homes rarely think, nor can

comprehend what terrible things that the homeless have to go through. They live in abandoned buildings,

cars, buses, boxes, on park benches and underground. They eat bits of old fruit and meat with the mold and

green sludge scrapped off. One man and his son used up their $60 of food stamps that they were giver for

two months. For a week they lived on ketchup and mustard. Within three days of the condiments

disappearing the boy had both his feet amputated due to frostbite. This was in New York.

There are some people who still have a spark of interest in finding jobs. They look for places to

work, and they try to establish an address and connections. If a homeless person is absolutely dedicated to

ending his own homelessness, he will most likely find his way out.

The one category that people assume all homeless fall into is the undeserving homeless, or

“bums”. These are usually men in their 40s or 50s who sit around all day and do nothing. They don’t try and

help themselves or others. They lie and cheat and honestly deserve nothing because they could never give

anything if they were forced to. They make up a very small group in fact, about 4% of all homeless.

Drugs are everywhere on the streets. It is estimated that 20% of all people living on the streets use

hard drugs daily. Such drugs as cocaine, heroine, and morphine plague certain areas. AIDS often spreads

like wildfire among people who share unsterilized needles, and once a person contracts the HIV virus, they

become a statistic in the disabled category.

I have found that there seem to be two main elements in saving a homeless person. The

government needs to help homeless people get back on their feet. They need to make sure also that

homeless people don’t abuse systems such as social security and housing. Another thing that a homeless

person greatly needs is responsibility over himself. The homeless need to get up on their own two feet, by

their own will and try and help themselves. Finding jobs, such as selling “Homeless Newspapers” such as

Streetwise in Chicago, or Street News in New York. A vendor gets the papers for free or low cost, sells

them for a dollar and keeps 55 cents for each sold. They can then use this money to pay for food, shelter,

and some personal uses. Many shelters exist whose primary goal is to help the homeless get a job and

home. They offer computer teachers, landscapers, welders, and other types of craft that can be used in

society today. So if the government is willing to help get the homeless rou!

sed into the wanting of a better life, and they wish to follow through, then I think we could find a better,

faster way to end the nation’s problem of homelessness.


The reason I didn’t include any numbers on the amount of homeless people is because they are

some of the most difficult people to count. People lived doubled up with families, they move from place to

place, and have children. There is also the matter of exactly HOW to count them. There is no way that

works better than the other. Surveys that have been done on the homeless in New York have differed my

the tens of thousands. So all I did include were the hard facts that could not be opposed.


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