Pathways to youth homelessness Essay


Homelessness can have adverse impact on the society as it can result in criminal activities and violence. The phenomenon can hurt the community by painting a bleak picture of the society. Action is required on both individual and government level to counter the harmful effects of homelessness. It is important therefore to understand what can be done with regards to homelessness. Also it is important to increase awareness about homelessness.


Shelter is a serious issue in the world today as many people remain affected due to homelessness. This problem does not only exist in the developing countries but developed world is also facing similar issues. Trying economic times have forced many out on the streets as everything gets out of the reach of the people. The role of society has to be great here because there are far reaching implications of homelessness for the society as a whole. It is important to find out ways in which this problem can be solved or at least reduce to a nominal level. Homelessness can have disastrous consequences on the health of individuals. Socially too homeless people face a lot of problems.

In this paper we will talk about homelessness and their problems. The paper will include the steps taken by the community for the homeless people and also the different programs that exist for homelessness. Preventive measures for homelessness will also be discussed in the paper briefly.

What is Homelessness?

Homeless is defined by American government as ‘a person who lacks housing’ (Office of Applied Studies, 2010). The definition of homeless people is different in different countries depending on the level of life style prevalent in the country. For countries that have generally high levels of poverty the definition of homelessness is quite restricted and includes people only who lack housing constantly. In more developed countries like the United States homelessness also includes people who live in transitional houses and the people who live in temporary living quarters (Office of Applied Studies, 2010).

People who do not have a home experience great difficulty in their daily life. Usually lack of housing is coupled with health problems and lack of food. This aggravates the problem for the homeless as they have very limited options. They try to live on the streets and feed themselves from charity or trash cans. The misery of the homeless also increases with extreme weather condition. Different psychological problems also arise due to homelessness and the people affected are forced to have a short term view of everything. They only become interested in living through the days somehow. Homelessness usually affects people who are extremely poor or who are not sane enough to live a healthy life individually and have no one to take care of.

The rural to urban migration in the 19th century in the United States due to rapid industrialization and this was time when the phenomenon of homelessness emerged in the country (Baumohl, 1996). When people from rural areas started to come to urban centers they usually don’t have a home to live in and everyone cannot afford hotels. This is a strong reason for homelessness in the country. Cities also generate employment for people therefore they turn to them for employment opportunities. This is why homelessness is a formidable problem in large urban centers.

What is being done about homelessness?

Homelessness is identified as a major problem by policy makers and the society is trying to help the people get back on their feet. As mentioned above there are two types of homeless people; one who do not have a home and one who do not have a regular home or who live in transitional houses. The former needs the most attention because they are totally dependent on the society. Different private sector and public sector initiatives have been taken in order to take care of the homeless.

In the 1970s and 80s American society started to take the problem of homelessness seriously as shelters homes started to develop (Borchard, 2007). At first shelters homes only gave homeless people a place to stay at night but later on they evolved and shelter was provided to people at all times. At present homeless can find many shelter houses to stay as community work is being done greatly. People do not open their homes for the homeless but they spend on charity which helps the homeless. It cannot be said that the plight of the homeless is completely over because homelessness remains a big problem even today in the country. But the good thing is that community is working for homelessness and awareness exists regarding the plight of homeless people.

People on the individual get involved by providing donations for the homeless. On the community level much is being done for the homeless but more is required at an individual level. People usually don’t help the homeless people and they are treating as strangers. People usually are suspicious of homeless people because of the violence and crime associated with them. This is an area where more can be done because the perceptions of the people in turn fuel the criminal behavior of the homeless. When homeless people receive no help they are forced to indulge in illicit activities. On an individual level more helpful behavior is required when dealing with the homeless.

What will happen to the Homeless?

The long term consequences of homelessness are ponderous for the whole society. Homeless people are needed to be cared of otherwise they can become a burden for the society. Also the may indulge in criminal activities which will increase the crime rate in the country. The productivity of the society also decreases because of homelessness as homeless people are usually not able to contribute to the society. Psychological problems and Health related issues also exist among the homeless and this can also cause problems for the society. The whole outlook of the society is tarnished when people are homeless because it shows the level of disparity that exists in the society.

If no one tries to help the homeless then they will end up living substandard life all their lives. Homelessness has a toll on emotional development of the young people. They live on the streets when they need care and attention, and all this makes an empty space in their personality. When they grow up they are usually emotionally detached and this give rise to violent behavior. Criminal activities of the homeless are seriously problems for any society (Hagan & McCarthy, 1998). Homeless people often don’ learn any skill therefore they are not able to contribute to the society and remain unproductive. This will continue to happen till help is provided to the homeless people.

Health problems are common in the homeless people and without health care they are destined to die or live an unhealthy life. Because homeless people don’t get regular supply of quality food they are forced to eat any or everything that is accessible to them. This negatively affects their health.

Homelessness also has an implicit affect on the society. If the problem is not solved completely then the outlook of the society is affected as people would think of the society as an unequal society. This has far reaching implications as people will at one time accept these differences. This will in turn kill the hope of any change in the society in future.

The role of community is great in all this as people who lack housing should be taken care of by the community. Homeless people can make great workers and can contribute to the society. They only require help from the community to stand back on their feet. The best thing the community can do is to set up funds for the homeless people that can help them become independent. Homeless people are usually very hardworking and all they want is little guidance and help from the society. Community should play their part by providing help and guidance to the homeless members of the society.

What kinds of Programs are Available?

There are many programs available for the homeless people in United State. On governmental level US department of housing and urban development is playing a huge role in helping the homeless people. Some of the programs available for the homeless are supportive housing program, shelter plus care program, and single room occupancy program (US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2012).

The supportive housing program offers the homeless people housing units and group quarters (2012). This helps the homeless people greatly as two of their most basic needs of home and affection are met. This program can make a difference in the life of a homeless person who has no one in his or her life.

The shelter plus care program provides homeless people with rental assistance for tenant, sponsor, and single room occupancy (2012). This program allows the homeless to stand back on their own feet by granting help. The single room occupancy program again provides rental assistance to the homeless people (2012).

All these programs work for the betterment of the homeless people. Providing charity is not enough as it will only make the situation worse for the people. Help should be given in a way in which that makes them independent in future. The aim should be to make the homeless constructive and contributing members of the community by allowing them to escape from the miseries of homelessness.

What can be done to prevent homelessness?

It is important to take preventive measures in order to curtail the evil of homelessness. It can shake the foundations of the society by portraying an unjust view of the society. Firstly more programs should be implemented on the governmental level. Secondly awareness should be increased regarding the issue for the people of the community. It is true that people are aware of the problem of homelessness but more is required. At school level even children should be made aware of the homeless people and they should be educated to offer help to the poor. This kind of awareness is required.

Governmental programs for the homeless should focus on young children as they are the ones that suffer the most from homelessness (Martijn & Sharpe, 2009). They can get into bad habits in future if they are not taken care of and this is why programs should be tailor made for young people. Teenagers should also be given basic level education so they are able to earn a living on their own. The aim should also be to develop the homeless children emotionally and enriching empathy inside them. This can really make a different for the homeless children.

Awareness should be increased with regards to the homeless people because people usually don’t treat them with respect. This is not correct because homeless people are also human beings and they also demand respect. They should not be treated as strangers and this can only change by awareness programs. Also homeless people should be accepted so that they know that they are being taken care of. A smile to a homeless person can make his day because he is hungry for affection. This should be brought to the awareness of people from an early age so that feelings for the homeless people start to develop at a young age. The aim is to change the perception of the young people regarding homeless people.


Homelessness is a major problem for both the developing and the developed world. Rural urban migration is the main reason for homelessness alongside with trying economic times. People who live on the street usually don’t have access to health care which negatively affects their health. Various programs are offered by government to help the homeless people. The aim should be to bring homeless people back on their feet. It is also important to increase awareness with regards to homeless people or else they might slip into criminal activities. The focus should be on young homeless children because they suffer the most at the hands of homelessness.


Baumohl, J. (1996). Homelessness in America. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group

Borchard, K. (2007). The Word on the Street: Homeless Men in Las Vegas. Nevada: University of Nevada Press

Hagan, J. & McCarthy, B. (1998). Mean streets: youth crime and homelessness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Homeless Assistance Program. (2012). US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved on February 2012 from

Martijin & Sharpe. (2009). Pathways to youth homelessness. Social Science & Medicine, 62(1): 1-12

Terminology. (2010). Office of Applied Studies. Retrieved on February 2012 from