Poverty in the United States

Is America still the land of opportunity? There are countless people who would agree with that, but on the other hand, there are countless more who feel like the cards are stacked against them. Many will argue that all it takes is hard work and dedication, with a hint of luck to make it in America. But as easy as it is to say that, the tale can go both ways. Here are some key areas to help out the 4.8 million homeless people in America.
1. Health Care: Currently, more than half of the homeless population have a history of either mental illness or substance abuse. Since many homeless are unemployed, that means they also lack medical insurance which leads to a lack of access. This combined with the wear and tear of living on the streets and malnutrition puts the homeless at a much higher risk than they should be for preventable diseases and causes a strain on the healthcare system.

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The homeless population have every right to affordable care and should be cared for. The stigma around drug use and abuse needs to be reversed as often times they are a sign of bigger troubles and difficulties in a person’s life. Rather than being seen as no good druggies, these people should be looked at with empathy as many biological and sociopolitical factors do not allow an addict to break the cycle of dependence.


2. Lack of Affordable Housing: Poverty and homelessness are inevitably linked. It’s no surprise that when the economy is doing poor, rates of homelessness go up. In desperate times, people have to take what they can get. So for many people with a lack of education or experience, this means taking low income jobs that aren’t enough to pay for the rising housing costs. The average renter wage in 2013 was $14.32; however a wage of $18.79 is needed to support a two bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.


3. Institutional Racism: Even though America is a land built by immigrants and supposedly a melting pot, there are clear advantages to being white. Minorities are much more likely to live in poverty and be incarcerated, and it directly hinders the development of their children which in turn will limit their opportunities letting great potential go to waste.

Baggett, T. P., O’Connell, J. J., Singer, D.E., & Rigotti, N.E. (2010). The Unmet Health Care Needs of Homeless Adults: A National Study. American Journal of Public Health, 100(7), 1326-1331.
DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social Work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession. Lyceum Books, (3rd Edition).
“Out of Reach 2013: National Low Income Housing Coalition.” National Low Income Housing Coalition. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.


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