This is concluding post about America’s struggle with homelessness. To express what the future looks like for America’s homeless I will start with looking at the homeless in America currently. The definition of homeless according to the McKinney-Vento Act is ‘individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence’. As of now, people, many of whom are children and youth, who are considered homeless could be in one of the following living situations, as cited by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, dividing a house with other people, residing in hotels or camping facilities, transitional housing, or living in an abandoned building, such as a hospital. The people who are in these situations are considered homeless, however there are other cases that also fall into the category of homeless.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is helping those who are homeless and in ‘near homeless’ situations. Those who are considered near homeless are individuals and families who are on the verge of being in a homeless situation. For example, they may be close to losing their home, because they have been laid off of a job. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has developed goals to ensure that people are being helped during these difficult situations. Their goals, which can be found at their website are as follows, to maintain existing nationally assisted homes and resources, expand low income housing, and establish stability in housing.
The Third Annual Homeless Assessment Report, completed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (Office of Community Planning and Development) showed the statistics of American homelessness. In their 2008 report they stated that, statistically, on any given night 63 percent of homeless were individuals and 37 percent of homeless were families. Of these people those who were sheltered were veterans, making roughly 15 percent, people with mental illnesses, 28 percent, HIV victims, 4 percent, unaccompanied youth, 2 percent, and 39 percent of whom were suffering from substance abuse. These statistics reflect that those who are in homeless situations often need more help than just shelter. Often homeless individuals are facing physical, mental and emotional struggles.
Homeless individuals do not just reside in urban areas and around large cities, they can be found in many rural areas as well. The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that rural homeless individuals make up nine percent of the homeless population. Some of the most impoverished people in America live in rural areas. Recently, 20/20, an ABC News program, did a story on the Appalachia region of the United States. This is a rural area in the eastern United States that suffers from extreme poverty. The story highlights some of the issues and problems that the children and adults face that are growing up there.
The homelessness in America is something that saddens and quiets most of the American people. Ending homelessness and giving them hope for the future is something that is a priority.
Today, there are some things that many American homeless can smile about. Lately the media has been talking about the Homeless World Cup. This is a organization where the homeless of the world play for their countries in street soccer. This is creating inspiration for a bright future of the players and other homeless people. The game and organization give the homeless who play something to live for. Those who are not homeless can also make an impact through this organization. The program offers places for people to donate, volunteer or raise money for the organization. The vision of the Homeless World Cup is for a ‘healthy, abundant, confident world where everyone has a home, a basic human need,’ (mission). Also, homeless individuals themselves can have a chance to play in the soccer game.
Although the national poverty level and homeless rate is at a staggering level and the economy is down the homeless of America have many organizations that advocate for them. Many organizations in the Twin Cities and around the country aim at helping those on the streets. Source Ministries is helping the youth of Minneapolis. Other organizations such as, Families Moving Forward, People Serving People, and Mary’s Place are all geared toward serving the impoverished people of the Twin Cities. Homeless Help in the Twin Cities (map of organizations that serve the homeless). The homeless of America are often overlooked by many Americans. However, they do need help from those who are willing to serve. This is a problem in America that can and should be fixed. It is simply unacceptable that some American live in multi-million dollar houses, while others live with no where to lay their head.