20 Questions...Answered Book 3
20 Questions...Answered Book 3
" Homelessness (S. 97-98)
It is an all too familiar scene. Walking or driving along city streets, passing a person carrying their belongings in a shopping cart or a person with a sign propped against their body that reads, ""Homeless. Will do odd jobs for food."" Looking at these people, the question often comes to mind: how did someone end up in such dire straits?
Being homeless is when a person is literally without shelter. Statistics for the number of homeless people are difficult to determine conclusively because the number of people who are homeless changes daily. It is also next to impossible to go out and physically count every homeless person in a city. In the United States in the early 1990s, the number of people who were homeless for one or more nights in a year was estimated to have been between one and three million. And the number of people living without shelter continues to increase. Not since the 1930s, during the Great Depression, have so many Americans been homeless. In the mid-1980s, the United Nations estimated that the world's underdeveloped countries contained more than 100 million homeless people.
Who are the homeless? The homeless population in North American cities is made up of many categories of people. They are men, women and children. Many are forced to live on the streets because government assistance runs out, lowrent housing is eliminated or there are unaffordable rent increases. There are others who choose to be homeless because they want to leave difficult situations at home, such as battered wives or abused children. Some homeless people are alcoholics or drug addicts. Many discharged mental patients are homeless.
When a home is no longer an option, the homeless turn to the cities for places to eat and sleep. Cities run soup kitchens to feed those who cannot afford a meal. In alleys and doorways, on benches and store steps, in public facilities and public shelters, the homeless take refuge. Cities have responded by changing city-owned buildings into shelters. But some homeless people consider shelters to be dangerous and fear the people they might meet there, these people may refuse to use shelters. During wintertime in colder climates, volunteers drive the streets handing out sleeping bags, warm clothing and hot soup.
As cities are striving to provide options for the homeless, the United States government is also making efforts to solve the problem. In 1988 Congress began a $2 billion program to aid the homeless. Money was available for providing food, shelter, health-care and alcohol-and-drug-abuse programs for the homeless. The program has not been overly successful. The battle to eliminate homelessness belongs to everyone: the government, the individual cities, all of humankind. The United Nations declared 1987 to be the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless in an effort to improve programs for the poor and to heighten public awareness of the plight of the homeless. Despite all the efforts, homelessness continues to be at crisis"