Lack of affordable housing, untreated mental illness, limited access to mental health care, insufficient funding: these are just a few factors that contribute to the high rate of homelessness, although some countries face higher rates than others , But homelessness is a global problem that requires comprehensive consideration of solutions.
An estimated 2% of the global population is homelessIn any given night, more than 567,000 Americans were left homeless.
Regardless of our social status, we are all affected to some extent by the homeless in the United States, which is why it is so important to address the needs of the most at-risk groups and take necessary measures to deal with crises from countries and nations. Local level.
Homelessness in the U.S.
Homelessness has been a problem since the establishment of this country. Native Americans were displaced by European settlers in the 1600s. Many African Americans received the promised land, but became homeless after slavery was abolished in 1865.
Although homelessness can affect all parts of the country, as we saw during the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis, it usually affects ethnic minorities and marginalized people in underserved communities more primarily.
When these communities suffer from natural disasters, the impact is often devastating.After the Chicago fire, Hurricane Katrina, And Hurricane Maria, Thousands of Americans are homeless and urgently need government and community support to rebuild their lives. Many Americans are still dealing with the lasting economic impact of these hurricanes.
“There are many factors that contribute to homelessness, one of which is poverty,” said Karen Ranus, executive director of NAMI Central Texas ED. “Many homeless people are actually working. They are underemployed.”
Due to the economic and social differences in this country, homelessness is a cycle that will inevitably repeat itself. Individuals living in underserved communities may not be able to receive education, which limits their job opportunities.
Individuals engaged in minimum wage jobs may not be able to afford housing in their communities. Individuals who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system may not get the support they need to avoid homelessness after release.
Who is the homeless?
There are often more homeless people in major cities in the United States. The cost of living in these cities is higher and it is more difficult to obtain high-paying jobs. However, there are homeless people all over the country, including many rural areas.
More than 3.5 million young people experience unaccompanied homelessness in a year There are far more homeless men than women, and 70% of the homeless are men and unaccompanied young men. However, some people are at a much higher risk of becoming homeless than others.
LGBTQ youth may be homeless due to stigma surrounding gender and sexual identity, lack of acceptance, lack of mental health support, and prejudice from family and community members. We know that compared with cisgender and heterosexual youth, LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to be homeless. of
“Although family rejection is the biggest cause of LGBTQ youth homelessness, other factors such as poverty can also have an impact,” said Jeffrey M. Cohen, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University Irvine Medical Center. “Transgender, non-gender and non-binary youths face the greatest risk of poor physical and mental health.”
For all these reasons, LGBTQ youth need safe and positive care from health and mental health providers who know how to solve and treat identity-related issues, from depression to the need for life-affirming surgery.
Kira Hayes MA, MFT, owner and mental health provider of Affirming Pathways Psychotherapy, LLC, explained: “The reality of potential abuse and denial from services that should be their safe space is real, including in schools, healthcare environments, Community programming, churches, and even homeless shelters.”
This is why Dr. Cohen recommends ending the systemic oppression of LGBTQ members. “We must advocate national and local policies that promote inclusiveness and acceptance. Affirmative rights policies increase the likelihood of family acceptance, thereby reducing the likelihood of family rejection, thereby reducing the risk of LGBTQ youth becoming homeless.”
“The transition from military life to civilian life is really difficult,” said Dr. Michael Kiener, associate professor and director of the Maryville University Rehabilitation Counseling Program.
Although many veterans are well-educated and have access to local veteran services, veterans still account for 7% of all homeless people.
Dr. Kiener explained that many veterans are at a higher risk of PTSD and other mental illnesses, which increases their likelihood of becoming homeless. “If we have anxiety or depression, we may shrink, argue with important people, and lose our jobs.”
Dr. Kiener said that veterans often face marital difficulties, social isolation and addiction issues, and the stigma of seeking help prevents many people from getting the support they need to avoid or get rid of homelessness.
People with mental health problems
Without the support of family members or community members, and without affordable and accessible care, many people’s lives will be severely affected by their mental health.
“People with severe mental illness may have cognitive and behavioral problems, which can make it difficult for them to maintain daily activities, such as maintaining work or maintaining an apartment,” said Elizabeth L. Jeglic, PhD, professor of psychology. John Kit College, New York. This is why she suggested redefining how we provide resources for people with mental illness.
She said that programs like active community therapy can help provide basic needs such as housing and food, while ensuring that these people have access to free psychological, substance abuse and other mental health services.
“When you have untreated diabetes, you can look at the list of symptoms; it manifests itself in a very physical way, but in general, mental health problems are manifested in thoughts, actions, and behaviors.” Lanas said . “Imagine if we treat them as health issues and eliminate shame.”
Victims of Domestic Violence
38% of domestic violence victims become homeless at some point in their lives. When faced with life-threatening or dangerous domestic violence situations, individuals may be forced to leave their homes, leaving them without a safe place to live, and in many cases there are few housing options, especially for unemployment, children, and material victims The person abuses the problem, or has a criminal record.
“If you have experienced trauma, you may have difficulty coping with activities of daily living, which increases the risk of homelessness,” said Dr. Jeglic. Family survivors often lose their support system, which makes it more difficult to maintain a family and work, especially when they have children.
Ending homelessness will require changes in national policies, redistribution of funds and more local support, from free consulting services to more low-income housing options. Our national system is not built to fully recover those who find themselves homeless.
“Sometimes, the mental health problems that lead to homelessness are untreated or undertreated,” Lanus said. “[and] Sometimes when people are homeless, the trauma they experience can trigger mental health problems. ”
Without proper institutional support, homelessness is a vicious circle.
For LGBTQ+ youth, there is no direct federal plan, and the risk of serving the gatekeeper is higher, Hayes said, includes sheltering in an environment that should be supported and responding to overall discrimination or abuse, which may include violence.
“We need clear non-discrimination clauses that prohibit service providers from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, nationality, or disability.”-Dr. Cohen
Homelessness usually requires individuals to live in a survival mode, which can be dangerous, destructive, and detrimental to their well-being, making it more difficult to get rid of occasional or long-term homelessness.
End homelessness and provide support
In order to prevent homelessness and support people at risk or currently homeless, we must make affordable housing, universal education, the provision of high-paying jobs, and health and mental health services as national priorities. We also need to address the stigma that still exists and continues to hurt those most in need of support.
“Access to safe and positive care for displaced youth is a key need,” Hayes said. “Regulating and raising awareness of available resources, supportive environment, and family therapy care can also help LGBTQ+ youth and families.”
Individuals can support the homeless in their local communities in a variety of ways, from collecting food donations and volunteering in local shelters to advocating for policy changes and working in human service agencies, but ending homelessness is a bigger one. challenge.
“I firmly believe that one of the only ways to end homelessness is to provide housing,” Lanus said.
She strongly recommends the housing priority model, which focuses on providing permanent housing for the homeless, regardless of their background.The Housing First model addresses behavioral health issues, financial knowledge, substance use issues, and other major aspects to achieve long-term self-sufficiency.
“Do some research on your local community to see what supportive housing is happening and support it,” Lanus said. “You can donate, obviously you can give your time. Give your voice to change, because all of us need to do this to really create the change that must happen.”
Very good sentence
If you or someone you know is homeless and needs immediate help, please contact your local U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development office for available resources or contact the Salvation Army for emergency shelter. If you or someone you know is a homeless veteran, you can call the Homeless Veterans Helpline at 1-877-424-3838 to get 24/7 service for veterans.