by Marisa Bordowitz
- There are approximately three million homeless people in the U.S. That is a staggering number. Those who are homeless are more likely to encounter health problems as even with health care reformations, there is still a system of health care that does not favor people bereft of health insurance. (Boes and Van Wormer, 1997, pg. 409).
- It is estimated that 2.3 to 3.5 million Americans will face homelessness every year. Their mortality rates are unconscionable. (Baggett, 2010, pg. 1326).
- Mental illness rates among the homeless are inordinate. These rates often transcend those of the general population. More than 50 % of homeless individuals suffer from (or have a history of) mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse is also encumbers them. (Baggett, 2010, pg. 1326).
- Women are more susceptible to health problems than men. They are more at risk of sexual and physical assault. The proportion of homeless women has been proliferating. Impecunious single mothers with children in particular are likely to fall victim to homelessness. (Boes and Van Wormer, 1997, pg. 409).
- Many of these women are simply subject to the downsizing work economy while others experience issues with men such as IPV (Intimate Partner Violence). (Boes and Van Wormer, 1997, pg. 413).
- For a clearer picture, here is a demographic picture of who constitutes homelessness in the U.S (HOMELESSNESS CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE!):
“Single men – 48 %, Single women – 11 %, Children without families – 3 %, Blacks – 53 % (an especially staggering number considering blacks only make up about 13 % of the population), Whites – 31 %, Hispanics – 12 %, Native Americans – 3 %, Asians – 1 %, 43 % of the homeless are substance abusers, 19 % are veterans, 19 % are employed, and 8 % have AIDS or HIV” (Boes and Van Wormer, 1997, pg. 413-414)
- The general consensus is that the # 1 issue is the demand for affordable housing and the # 2 issue is poverty.
Humans of New York (HONY) – Brandon Stanton:
“I’ve got a whole stack of books in my cart. Most of them are advance copies. I know a place where they get thrown out.” “How many book have you read?” “Thousands.” “So why are you homeless?” “I’ve tried to work a job a bunch of times. But then I get sad, and then I get high, and things fall apart.” (New York City, December 2013)
“Homelessness can be very confusing for children, and it comes with a lot of misconceptions. We try to untangle that confusion as soon as they arrive: ‘No, you’re not a bum. You don’t live in a cardboard box. You don’t stink. Mom is not a bad person. She isn’t crazy. This is not forever.’ We want to undo some of the trauma of homelessness because we don’t want children to view themselves as homeless for the rest of their lives.”
Boes, M., & Wormer, K. (1997). Social Work with Homeless Women in Emergency Rooms: A Strengths-Feminist Perspective. Affilia, 12(4), 408-426.
Baggett, T. P. (2010). The Unmet Health Care Needs of Homeless Adults: A National Study.American Journal of Public Health, 100(7), 1326-1331.