Writing About Homelessness

Essay paper writing

Academic writing


Homelessness is an extremely pressing problem nowadays, actually, it was always a burning issue. It was first documented in America in 1640 already. Since that time it has only been growing. According to various estimates, there are almost 650,000 homeless in the USA, while the NLCHP – the National Law Center of Homelessness and Poverty declares as many as 3.5 million. The reasons why such a great amount of people has once found themselves in the streets are variable. Natural disasters, like tornado and hurricanes and some other related catastrophes, have contributed much to that.  Some people became homeless after being laid off from the job, losing their family or surviving a house fire. So, nowadays hundreds of thousands of people have no other option but to stay out in the streets, shelters, parks, etc. You may be surprised with the fact, but the great US nation is losing the fight against homelessness, even though it possesses abundant wealth and overwhelming authority.

Being a critical issue, homelessness has drawn the educators’ attention, that’s why students often write essays about homelessness and its various aspects.

It’s essential to know how to write a research paper on homelessness if you are a modern student, so we will do our best to help you with it.

Understanding of homelessness

Let’s, first of all, find out what the notion “homelessness” stands for. Generally, a homeless is called somebody, deprived of the basic needs like a place to live, immediate family, food to eat and community bonds. As a rule, such personalities lack the supplies of vital necessity and are exposed to numerous threats. However, from the legal viewpoint, the term “homeless” is defined differently from one country to another; the definitions may be at variance in different areas of the same state. You can go deeper into this terminology in your what is homelessness essay, paying attention to every meaningful aspect of the definition in each and every country, state or region.

The Housing and Urban Development Department outlines 4 main categories of the individuals who live in places not intended for human habitation. So, the term homeless includes those, who spend nights in the shelters for people without homes, long-term residences, motels, vehicles, tents, and shantytowns.

In the United Kingdom home is defined as not only a physical space but something, which provides identity and roots, security, safety and a sense of belonging and emotional welfare.

Nobody is insured against homelessness, one can meet women, kids, and men, living in the street. Due to the fact that they mostly have undergone much emotional and physical trouble, they are frequently hurt either physically or mentally, very often socially and emotionally.

Homelessness is a significant moral and ethical concern of the contemporary world. To write a homelessness ethics research paper is, in fact, a good idea for the students, who are allowed to choose the topic of their written work. Homelessness enters every person’s life in this or that way: through personal experience, personal contact or mass media. No matter how it comes into our life, it raises a number of ethical concerns, which should be faced by the homeless themselves, their family members, relatives, those professionally involved, general public and governmental bodies.

Most states provide assistance and services to the individuals, having lost their homes. The services are – food provision, clothes, and shelter, such help is realized by the community groups, volunteers or governmental bodies.  Individuals, charities, churches also make their contribution to this. There are newspapers in some cities, which help to find employment.

Unfortunately, homelessness in America demonstrates the tendency to a constant growth, and consequently, it’s widely discussed in public, in mass media, and by scholars, while students are also concerned about the problem.

Causes and reason of homelessness

One of the main research questions about homelessness is its reasons and causes. Actually, any society is subject to it, suffers from it and fights it. Lots of things can lead human beings out into the street – unemployment, problems in relations, evicting from home by family members, a landlord or a friend, some kind of abuse. However, homelessness is very often a consequence of a number of factors, not just a single reason. If you made up your mind to create a causes of homelessness essay, it will be reasonable to touch upon the following factor types – individual, social, structural and system failures.

The first group of factors is applied to personal situations of the individuals. They may be associated with certain stressful events, here belong job loss, house fires, a crisis in personal life– like divorce or cases of domestic violence, problems with addictions or mental health, something like brain injury or fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol, by the way, may be a cause and a consequence of destitution.  The reasons why people become homeless may also be extreme poverty, mental health or substance abuse problems of somebody in the family. Violence at home has a direct and undeniable connection to homelessness; young generation and women, in particular, the ones with kids are subject to it most, they frequently leave their homes without any proper support. Women who live below the poverty line and experience domestic violence in many cases prefer leaving their home to the abusive relationship. Youngsters, who become victims of neglect and exploitation, leave their homes as well.

Structural factors are the social and fiscal issues, which influence the social environment and opportunities of the individuals. Lack of earnings, no access to the accommodation within one’s means and medical care, discrimination are among them. Unfortunately, economic shifts countrywide and local generate challenges for citizens; they are forced to look for the opportunities to earn more as they spend more on foodstuff and housing. The poor individuals, often fail to cover their vital necessities: childcare, education, housing, and healthcare are the main of them, so poverty and homelessness essay is a usual educational assignment. These 2 phenomena are closely connected, the impoverished are often just one step from losing their home. However, discrimination is generally the most decisive factor in this cluster, it can actually restrict the realization of the right to justice, assistance, and employment, thus putting ethnic and sexual minorities under a greater risk.

Finally, systems failures are the ones, which occur when the care and support systems fail, making individuals look for their new way around, but in the streets. The examples of such may become the difficulties with moving of the individuals from child welfare, release from health facilities, hospitals, and correctional establishments in a wrong way, lack of backing for immigrants and refugees also belong here.

When working on research papers on homelessness in America you may go into more details on the following reasons, of homelessness.

Unemployment – is the main issue leading to homelessness, lack of income whether from losing a job or being unable to find it results in shifting the individuals down into the streets. About 16% of the US citizens live under the poverty line, meaning they fail to cover their everyday life expenditures.

Personal or family crisis. Individuals having steady income may be kicked into the street due to an emergency of some kind, which arises in the family, with health or because of some other unexpectedness. Each unforeseen situation threatens with housing loss for those people who live already in scarcity. It may actually be something like simple car towing, poor health condition or death of a family member. Divorce, being an expensive matter also influences the earnings of each participant and may quickly spin a person into living rough, though such experience may be only short-term, just some kind of a transitional stage of life.

Affordable housing, though in such metropolitan cities as New York, San Francisco, and some others inexpensive accommodation is almost unavailable, the citizens are also crunched with the costs of living out of these areas. In the USA you are unlikely to be able to cover the expense of an average 2-bedroom flat anywhere around the country if only 1 family member is employed and paid a minimum wage.

Demographics. There is little statistics for the young generation homelessness, so the term “invisible homeless” – is often applied in this case. Young people can easily hang out with friends and do not need any services, that’s why it's difficult to make accurate estimations in this age group. Approximately 8% of the homeless American population is constituted by unaccompanied young people and children 380,000 individuals are still under 18 years old. You can mention it in your written work or write a separate essay on homeless youth.

The absence of the supporting network. Having a support network, you often take it for granted. The backing may take various forms – family, relatives, friends, colleagues or even some kinds of greater communities. When a person has somebody believing in him or her, one can move things around, but people, who are unfortunate to lack support are often sharply aware of this fact and suffer from this.

Substances abuse and problems with mental health. In 2013 every fifth homeless in the US suffered from the chronic substance abuse. Altogether such people made more than 130,000 US citizens. For this category of people, permanent supportive housing is vital, they need to have a stable place where they can stay combined with proper assistance and essential services to benefit from.

According to an estimation made in the USA, about 20% of the homeless American population suffer from mental illnesses, veterans are a part of this category, struggling not only with a mental disorder but with PST - posttraumatic syndrome. Such people have a lot of challenges every day and often stay homeless for a longer period. They usually have problems with self-care and lots of obstacles to finding a job.

A comprehensive analytical research paper on causes of homelessness will not still be enough to understand it in full as every person has a story, his own story. However, we can initiate the understanding of why it happens and start by taking simple actions in our own neighborhood.

The usual effects of homelessness

homelessness essay

No cause comes without the consequences and the learners are often asked to provide an essay about homelessness cause and effect. Certain consequences of facing homelessness are quite obvious – it is the change in the overall lifestyle and worsening of the health conditions, some problems with health may even lead to death. Individuals often face financial difficulties when divorcing; it may be difficult to cover everyday costs having a single income.

After becoming homeless one has to change many aspects of life, here belong type and quality of clothing and mode of transportation in the first turn.

Though mental illnesses are often viewed as the reason for homelessness, they may also be its consequence. When a person loses everything he has worked and lived for, he may have deep emotional impact resulting into mental problems. Malnutrition, a nutritional insufficiency, is another usual problem of the homeless. People living rough can’t afford eating out or having homemade meals, the homeless often eat spoiled or even rotten food, which is definitely unhealthy, but at least it is.

However, the mentioned above health problems are not the only ones people face while living in the street, from time to time their health fails because they lack the doctors’, family members, relatives, and friends attention. They often suffer from heart diseases, colds, tuberculosis, sleep deprivation, skin infections, drug abuse, AIDS.

Unfortunately, people living in the street often become the victims of physical and sexual exploitation, the risk of sexual assault is 20 times higher for women having no home than for those who have it. Besides, lots of the accidents of such kind remain unreported. The US National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has reported more than six hundred attacks with baseball bats, chains and other kinds of weapons in the past decade, women were raped.

Such happenings lead to multiple personal problems and you should mention it in your research paper on the effects of homelessness. For a person, who has found him- or herself out in the street it’s often difficult to believe that there will never be a roof to live under, this insight influences people’s state of mind and they often suffer from the following consequences –  substance dependence increase, loss of will and ability to look after oneself, loss of self-esteem, greater danger of violence and exploitation, growing deviations in behavior and increased risk of being involved in criminal affairs.

Any homelessness paper always can’t but mention that homelessness tears families apart, there are shelters not accepting children or just boys, sometimes, and mothers often have to go through the separation with their children taken to relatives or foster care.

It’s essential to mention in a homelessness essay that having no permanent place of residence influences children greatly. In addition to the higher rates of common diseases like asthma and stomach troubles, ear infections, they are more subject to depression, anxiety, and withdrawal. Such children also experience more difficulties in their studies and getting along with their same-age peers.

In case you have to prepare a report on the topic, you may mention in your homelessness speech outline that the effect of this problem can be viewed from 3 angles: the influence on individuals, on communities, and on the tax-payers. By the way, it can also become your main homelessness thesis statement, which you can reveal in more detail further in your speech.

If the influence on an individual is more or less clear from the written above, the moral and social aspects of influencing the local community can be mentioned. Actually, it challenges the community life on the whole as it tests it in a number of ways.

From the moral point of view general public is affected by sharing space with their fellow citizens living in the streets and they have to justify their inaction somehow often assigning fault to the homeless and being reluctant to understand the issues which have resulted into the current crisis.

Social structure suffers as the societies, where large inequity exists in the income and resource distribution are proved to be unhealthy for all citizens. Inequality provokes fear and the feeling of insecurity among all the members of society.

The increase of homelessness creates division between the community members, where “we” is opposed to “them”. While the victims of some immediate tragedy are often supported and proposed aid, the other individuals having no home of their own often experience shame, stigma, and isolation as their tragedies are not so obvious. However, such tragedies may be no less and even sometimes more severe.

Social harmony is shaken by the necessity to use the same public spaces and when people don’t have access to their own “private” space, the conflicts become severe and bring to the surface the deeply rooted issues connected with the negative perception of those living in poverty.

No homelessness in America essay should leave the influence of it on taxpayers without attention. The research conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has shown that it’s cheaper to solve homelessness problem than to ignore it. Actually, a single person living in the street costs the state on average 40,000 USD per year. The expenses include public services at very high rates -- emergency rooms, police, and courts. Besides, lots of individuals suffering from mental illnesses use the health-care services, when a supporting housing was provided to some of them; it was found out that the reduction of cost servicing was more than 16,000 USD per housing per year.

A decade ago a housing-first programs were introduced around the USA. The information compiled from 65 cities about all the services affected by homelessness revealed that the annual cost of keeping a person in the street varies from 35,000 USD to 150,000 USD. After the programs were established, the same expenses dropped to the figures ranging from 13,000 to 25,000 USD per person per year.

Possible solutions to the problem of homelessness

essays on homelessness

Housing the homeless reduces certain risk factors, like exposure to harsh temperatures or unhealthy habits. Besides bringing a person living in the street into a neat apartment, helps to restore his or her dignity, makes him or her more receptive to interventions and social services support. The level of stress reduces as well as the symptoms related to mental health or substance abuse disorders and consequently the behavior of such people often changes.

Research paper ideas about homelessness are variable and you may choose to create helping homeless people essay as your written assignment.

All around the world experts on homelessness have solutions they think will work best. Lately the idea of “managing homelessness” has shifted to “ending homelessness” in the US. The state has focused on certain subgroups - veterans, “chronic homeless,” families and young generation. Such efforts may help to develop new partners and shape public information awareness of what is needed to end homelessness.

If you’ve made up your mind to create a what to do about the homeless essay, you should focus on the following aspects, which are essential in the fight against this problem: housing, services, prevention, social connectedness.

It’s obvious that housing is the most important base for solving the problem of homelessness.  Actually, housing equals security, safety, and care. It is a firm Launchpad, which allows a person to be employed and keep the job, as well as to find a proper place in the society. The right for housing is a basic right of every human being, a stable connected life is impossible without it. Overall national commitment is required to guarantee affordable housing for everyone. Your homelessness essay thesis may sound like this - housing is a fundamental starting and strategic point, which may help to conquer homelessness.

Multiple studies have unfailingly proved that long-term housing aid decreases homelessness. Besides, it is cheaper than shelters and other official services. Among all the housing-based policies, the most important are the following:

  • Governmental assistance:  federal housing and public housing vouchers have proved to be the most effective solutions for bringing the level of homelessness down. The vouchers make it possible for the low-income households to hire a decent apartment to their liking and get a flexible subsidy adjusting to the overall income of the family. Such vouchers are really successful as they allow the families to stay out of shelter system and ensure they are housed. Thus due to this measure family, homelessness is reduced.
  • Permanent supportive housing was first introduced in the 1980s in New York. It brings together affordable housing and essential support services for those who suffer from mental disorders, AIDS, and other serious illnesses.  As it was already mentioned above, such measure is not only extremely useful for those living in the street and requiring constant medical care, but reduces the costs of support per homeless person, which are covered with taxpayers money.
  • “Housing first” approach presupposes placing the long-term homeless often suffering from mental illnesses, substance abuse, and other health disorder into subsidized housing with the consequent linking them to support facilities. Such approach has also turned out to be much more economical than institutional and emergency care.

The following important aspect in the struggle against homelessness is the right for shelter, which should be guaranteed as an essential legal protection for those having no home, whether it’s a family a child or an individual. In your persuasive essay about providing shelter for homeless, you should underline that sometimes a place to stay may become a decisive factor between life and death. It’s important to prevent homeless from sleeping in the streets and city parks, subway and other public places, which can lead to various cold-related injuries, like hypothermia or some others.

The right to shelter protects daily thousands of homeless people. When individuals or families in a rough life situation have access to someplace to stay in they may regain their life stability and start seeking permanent residence.

In your helping the homeless essay you should also pay attention to the services as a kind of way out of the problem. Definitely, housing is important, but it alone is not enough. All people need services:  child care, transportation, health care, treatment, case management, education and supported employment. Without all these people will return to the streets due to instability. The society must do its best to ensure accessible, available, affordable, and comprehensive support to those individuals, who have faced penury.

No solutions to homelessness essay can do without mentioning the importance of social ties. A key to your own apartment may be a dream, which came true, but people may still suffer from deterioration, loneliness, and depression in their new housing. Lots of people come back to their friends on the streets, due to the fact that housing and services cannot create community, while community and human relations should be in priority as a part of the strategy of social inclusion. People should not divide the community into us and them but look at each other as equal personalities, worth happiness and full lives.

Crafting a strategy for social inclusion may become a good idea for a homeless problem solution essay.

At present, most measures against homelessness are focused on providing solutions for the individuals, who have already slipped down. We often try to kick them back in, but to end homelessness by doing it to one person at a time is impossible. Any homelessness research paper will tell you that it’s not less important to focus full attention on problem prevention. Prevention here does not simply stand for providing a subsidy for housing for a short time to help a family which is threatened to be thrown out of their apartment but to make a comprehensive research aiming to find out those at the most threat of becoming homeless. Then it’s reasonable to go as far upstream as possible and offer appropriate support for such individuals, it may be financial, emotional or other measures, which will help people not to slip into homelessness. As such actions require immense creativity you can devote to it your solutions to homelessness essay. Several programs were already introduced and even proved to be effective several programs for the people with low income. Grants were offered to the renters at risk of losing their place of residence to cover rent expenses and stay in it.

Unfortunately, the rent payments continue to grow, while the earnings remain low. That’s why an overwhelming number of people fell behind in their rent payments after certain unexpected expenses they face. It may be unanticipated medical costs, a job loss or death of a family member. Financial aid helps people stay in their place of living.

Legal services, which provided the lawful representation of the tenants in court have also proved to be not only successful but also cost-effective. Most of those who used the service managed to avoid the shelter system remaining in their houses.

Analyze possible policies and measures which can help overcome governmental bureaucracies, make a proper homelessness research paper outline and develop your idea. Housing assistance, for instance, can help escape homelessness to young people who have grown out of foster care, or low-income people with mental illness who leave hospitals, or those individuals, who exit correction institutions. Such people can benefit from such services as job training or counseling.

Without any doubt, prevention is a hard work as it requires overall analyses of multiple systems. Pathways into homelessness should be identified first and then solutions designed to prevent people from falling down.

The spheres of housing, healthcare, child welfare, education, employment, criminal justice and many others should be studied and then we can begin going upstream to stop the flow of people down into the homelessness.

You can also choose an essay about helping feed the homeless as a separate assignment or mention this measure in your paper with a wider topic. Here you can mention that an everyday effort is important, one may simply keep a food kit in his car so that it can be given to anyone in the street who needs it.

Prepare several gift cards to have on hand. Even 5 USD can be a remarkable gesture, besides the cards are easy to carry around.

Donate your recyclables to the homeless collecting cans and bottles. It’s a win-win, by the way.

Donate to local shelters, food drive, churches, or coalitions.

Help the helpers - contribute to nonprofits or other alike organizations which assist the homeless. They know how to spend your dollar with maximum efficiency.

You can also help in shelters or soup kitchens in various ways and fundraise as well at your school or workplace! You can even organize a food drive yourself and more than that get involved in local policymaking, start where you can and go as far as you feel in power.

Some facts about homelessness

The facts below may be used as a hook for essay about homeless or will be helpful in the process of paper creation.

  • The overall amount of the homeless population worldwide reaches an overwhelming figure of 100 million people.
  • In America there are almost 650,000 homeless, 37 percent of them have families, 25 percent are single women and about 20 are children, 25 percent suffer from mental disorders, 35 percent have substance abuse problems. However, only 13 percent of the total number are homeless chronically.
  • People having no home are usually thought to have no education or earning no money, however, the research has shown quite a different picture: 21 percent of the homeless have graduated high school and 27 percent have completed even a higher level. Almost 45 percent of people in the street take occasional jobs and work about 30 hours weekly.
  • A typical individual living in the street is a single male between 30 and 50 years old belonging to some racial minority group. Every third homeless is disabled.
  • It may be a surprise, but most homeless are found in the regions, where the level of unemployment is below 5 percent.
  • New York and California are noted for the highest homeless areas, with hotspots in, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
  • The largest number of those chronically homeless live in warmer regions of the Southwest and the Southeast.
  • Above 90 percent of women found themselves in the streets due to the violence cases at home. They had become the victims of abuse.
  • Remarkably, higher homelessness levels are observed in areas, where GDP is higher. It may seem that relatively wealthy regions could take care of those in need, but in fact the gap is tremendous between the wealthy and who live in poverty.
  • Young people commonly get into the street being kicked out by parents, having no opportunities to earn their living, lacking healthcare or due to the violence at home, relationship breakdowns, social exclusion, and forced eviction.
  • Over 57,000 of veterans, people who had risked their lives for America, have no housing, 10 percent of which are women. Only 60 percent of homeless veterans stays in shelters, the others live in the streets.
  • Northeast proposes a higher proportion of shelters, almost 50 percent, while more permanent supportive housing is offered in the Southwest. The Northwest tests rapid re-housing projects more than any other region.
  • Homelessness is illegal. Don’t you want to discuss it in your argumentative essay on homelessness? A quarter of the US towns consider begging in public illegal, about a third prohibits to stand or wander around in the cities, almost 20 percent makes it a law-breaking to sleep in the street, more than a half prohibit to simply sit or lie in public places. Some cities even criminalize feeding of the homeless according to their law.
  • In Urban Areas, homelessness constitutes about 70 percent of the overall number, in rural areas, this is only 10 percent. Simple logic prompts that cities have higher total population thus, producing more homeless, on the other hand (and you can mention it in your homelessness persuasive essay paper) people often believe cities offer more opportunities to get help when you are in need.
  • Though the homeless are often considered violent, in the real life, they are the victims. More than a hundred annual vicious attacks are made on the people in the streets, and hundreds more remain unreported. About a quarter of such attacks lead to the death of the homeless.
  • Public libraries play a vital role for the homeless population, not only allowing free access to the computers and world wide web but also provide them assistance in job search and even employ social workers full time with the purpose.

How to work on your essays on homelessness

In case you’ve got your assignment and feel a bit unsettled, just follow the simple steps and your assignment guidelines and you are guaranteed to get a perfect written work. Actually, you do a research every time and through the academic study is a bit different, it’s not much more difficult, it’s mostly approaches and sources which differ.

First of all, you should make up your mind as to the topic you’ll work on. No matter if your tutor proposes a topic or you chose it yourself, try to select the one, which arises your interest. Carefully study the sources available, find some example research paper on homelessness and approach your work with a critical spirit.

Frame your question in such a way that you can reveal –the who, what, where, why and how aspects of your topic, though don’t choose the topic too broad. Study also some examples of statement of hypothesis for a homelessness research paper on the internet or other available sources and form your own vision. Mind please, that your homelessness research paper thesis should be easily answered it will help you write a laconic, but thorough and comprehensive work.

To arise the interest of the readers you should make the question challenging and create your homelessness essay introduction in such a way that the audience is eager to study your work up to the end.

In the course of your work, you should turn to primary sources as well as to the secondary ones. Primary research is the one you perform in the field or during the work with the original documents, while the secondary research stands for the process of working with the founding made by the other people, who have worked on the topic already.

Secondary research material can be obtained in various ways –libraries’ databases, mass media, websites (it’s important to turn to the reputable sources, like “.org”, “.gov”, or “.edu”.)

In the process of your research pay attention to the useful information and interesting methods or approaches the other people use. Find a good homelessness research paper outline sample and modify it for the purposes of your study.

There are different techniques of creating a homelessness essay outline as well of the notes for your work. Put down the important information, facts and sources, mind map your ideas or use note cards to keep in mind the essential paraphrases and quotations. To avoid problems with citation –write down the title, author and page number of the source used.

Make up your mind as to the points you want to address, their order and the homeless essay conclusion you intend to have. Work on your first draft after that and set it aside for at least 24 hours. Revise it in a day and give it someone to read before you write your final revision.

Revise your paper and proofread it carefully for spelling and punctuation, double-check your Works Cited and make sure your work meets all the formatting guidelines.



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