Homelessness in the USA Essay

Homelessness is the state of lacking a reliable residential place to sleep. This is caused by poverty, lack of affordable housing and poor health caused by mental illness or substance abuse. New York has been at the forefront of dealing with the high number of homeless people. It is mandatory for the state of New York to formulate laws to deal with the homeless. This essay discusses what homelessness is and who can qualify to be called a homeless person. It also analyzes the empirical data of the homeless in New York in 2015. In the end, it gives a policy formulation that can be used by the state to help the homeless or reduce the high number of people who end being homeless.

Literature Review

Homelessness is a term that is very broad since it looks different to every person who experiences it (Goldman, 2009). It is both a problem and a symptom of other negative issues that range from chronic diseases, financial instability, abuse, unemployment, mental illness, sexual victimization, and domestic violence. It a state of circumstances and choices and traumatic experiences that lead an individual to be declared homeless.

The legal definition of homelessness includes children and youth that lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence where they sleep. This includes all children that live in shelters and adults who also live in such shelters. This definition covers people living in shelters or transitional housing, motels, cars and campgrounds or sharing houses with others temporary due to loss of their residence or economic hardship (Burt, 2010)

Organizations like Bowery Mission in NYC have faced challenges in providing places for the homeless but also in supplying them with the basic supplies. These shelters serve to an average of 260 dinners per night NYC has shelters for different categories of people. There shelters for families with minor children and pregnant. They also have shelters for adult families who have no children. Help USA is an organization that provides shelters for the homeless in NYC. It built its first building in East New York in Brooklyn that changed the way people viewed the homeless. Homeless people in NYC have the option of seeking assistance at shelters that are open for 24 hours and seven days a week (Libal, 2015).

The main cause of homelessness in NYC among families is a lack of affordable housing and immediate effects like evictions and overcrowded housing. Other causes are domestic violence, job loss, and dangerous and hazardous living conditions. NYC there are many adults who suffer from mental illness and addiction disorders and mostly other severe health defects and issues (Burt, 2010).

NYC has seen a major rise in cases of homeless especially by children in 2014 and 2015 especially due to lack of affordable housing crisis (Libal, 2015). Effects of Bloomberg era of elimination of housing for the homeless families and children. The State has failed in the area where it refused to act quickly to restore desperately needed permanent housing resources for families with children.

The state in NYC is opposed to efforts to enhance rental housing and assistance for families without housing and in turn, it has proposed an inadequate housing plan that has not solved the problem. Homelessness has had a huge effect on African Americans due to racial and ethnic inequality where they end up lacking jobs. However, the most severe impact that homelessness has placed is on children and families.

Empirical Data

New york has experienced homelessness for a very long time. People in Newyork have the chance that they either have been homeless or know someone who is homeless or have shared a sidewalk with a person who is homeless. The city has 8.4 million people where more than 52,000 are homeless men, women, and children sleep in the shelter for the homeless. More than 32,000 homeless people sleep in subways and the streets. These numbers show that in every 152 residents of New York 1 is homeless (Alterman, 2015).

As of 2015 homelessness was had hit especially to children. The Coalition State of the Homeless 2015 established that children are the most hit by homelessness in NYC. Analysis established that one in every 43 NYC children spent a night in the municipal shelter and NYC has 2.3 of its city population are under 18 years (Alterman, 2015). I in 17 African American children and 1 in 34 Latino children were children who were homeless.6.0 percent of NYC African American population are under the age of 18 years.2.9 percent of this used NYC shelters that were compared to 1 in 368 white children that amounts to 0.3 percent (Libal, 2015).

The number of homeless children in shelters in NYC increased by 12 percent whereby it reached 25,459 children by January 2015. The number of homeless families increased by 14 percent where they reached 14,524 by January 2015.The number of single adults that slept each night in the shelters rose by 12 percent to 12, 724 by January 2015, which included both women and men (Alterman, 2015). Shelters for homeless families with children generally declined by 1 percent in the past year of 2014.In 2015, the number of children in the shelters stayed there for more than 432 days especially in January (Libal, 2015).

It is estimated that 1 in 72 NYC families spend at least one night in the municipal shelter and 1 in 31 African American families use the system. The Capital that story tracker released a report in 2015 stating the state of homelessness in NYC. It called on the government to deal with the state of homelessness sin NYC. It reported that 116,000 people inclusive of 42,000 children stayed at the city shelter, and this number included African American (Libal, 2015).

A report carried out in 2015 by Newyork municipality established that homeless mothers in NYC have experienced domestic violence (Libal, 2015). One in five parents who are homeless has been in foster care when they were children. It is estimated that 90 of homeless people are black and Latinos, but it is good to note that 53 of people in New York are black or Latino. The homeless have been in New York since the 1800 until today, but the number keeps growing day by day due to high standards of living and poverty lives in the city.

Statistics shows that a large majority of homeless people in NYC live with mental disorders where four out five are men. NYC unsheltered homeless population is located in the central business district of Manhattan where 60 live there permanently (McAllister, 2010). In NYC, the homeless shelter population has risen in the past year that is 2014 where it increased by 13 percent averagely using nightly census of 60,670 people in 2015 January.

Discussion and Debate

There has been debate whether the government should help the homeless or not in New York. Many have argued that it should help most families who live in the streets have mental disabilities, and, therefore, cannot be able to work for their families and they need medical services to enable them to make a living.

New Yorkers have experienced a widened gap between rents and incomes. This affordability gap affects the poor and low-income earners in NYC. Between the year 2011 and 2014 monthly apartments for rent were at $1,000 in 2014 and 2015 medium apartments rent went high by 3.4 due to inflation (Alterman, 2015).

Some people may view helping the homeless as using resources of the government badly instead of redirecting such resources to other areas or different projects. However the homeless have their rights and freedoms that must be guaranteed .Therefore, the government of America should ensure that every citizen of New York has proper shelter that is those that sleep on sidewalks and subways are taken to the shelter or provided with affordable housing facilities.

The most issue that led to homelessness in NYC is poor policies by the former mayor and the state failed to reverse quickly and act with the flawed Bloomberg–era policies. This policy had established that there would be an elimination of all permanent housing assistance that was to help the homeless who had children and children, in general. Under this policy, the City increased the rate of homelessness families to around 3,000 families in every night cluster, and this represented one-quarter of homeless children (Furgang, 2014).

The current mayor upon taking office pledged to reverse the failed policies of the previous state and address homelessness (Furgang, 2014). This is where the current mayor in 2014 introduced the new rental assistance programs that would help the homeless. However, there are policy disputes with governors of NYC administration where it refused to approve the new programs for the rental assistance programs.

The implementation of the rental assistance programs was also hampered by private property owners who stated that the state imposed rent were low, and they felt flawed by the Bloomberg –era programs. Due to such delays and inadequate allocation of resources in the city, the city was only able to move only 1,000 homeless families including children to permanent housing facilities (Furgang, 2014).

Policy Formulation

The homelessness situation in NYC needs bold action from the state where it needs to stop derailing and withdrawing state authorization in delivering housing based relief to NYC children who are suffering in municipal shelters. The state must also do more and addressing the state of homelessness in NYC that mostly affects children. The state must enhance rental assistance programs that will prevent high rates of homelessness, and they should build and allocate public housing apartments to homeless families with children. The state in NYC must ensure that the housing units suggested must be targeted for families who are homeless. The officials in the state must fund the state’s share of the agreement to create units of supportive housing for homeless people who have children and those with special needs (Estrine, 2010).

If these steps are taken, then NYC would experience a reduction in the number of children who are homeless. This would mean that by the year 2019, the number of homeless children would reduce by 85 . The Mayor of NYC has introduced policies for 2015, and this means that the number of homeless families and children will reduce (Alterman, 2015).


Homelessness in New York is high due to poverty and lack of affordable housing. The elderly, children, and women have affected every person. The government has formulated policies to deal with the menace especially when it comes to housing and ensuring proper health care service is provided to the homeless. The most affected people in NYC are children especially due to their parent’s lack of affordable housing, and this affects their health, their right to education, and their general safety.


Alterman, E. (2015). Inequality and one city: Bill de Blasio and the New York experiment, year one.

Burt, M. R., & United States. (2010). Strategies for improving homeless people’s access to mainstream benefits and services. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research.

Estrine, S. (2011). Service delivery for vulnerable populations: New directions in behavioral health. New York: Springer Pub.

Furgang, K. (2014). Ending hunger and homelessness through service learning. New York: Rosen Young Adult

Goldman, H. H., Buck, J. A., Thompson, K., & American Psychiatric Association. (2009). Transforming mental health services: Implementing the federal agenda for change. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Libal, K. R., & Harding, S. (2015). Human rights-based community practice in the United States. New York: Springer