The Homeless



Homelessness is a very large problem that America has come to face with. Millions of people, including

children, families, babies, veterans, and the elderly live day by day without food, water, a roof over their

head, or love. People that are mentally ill also have to tough it out on the streets, which can be very

confusing to them, and dangerous to us. This problem must be solved soon, because it's not getting better

fast enough.

People have not always had to suffer with homelessness. Though the problem has almost always

existed, it had not reached a severe level until the early 1970's. With every war there has been a small

trickle of homeless veterans to follow, but the Vietnam war and Korean war left a wave of many people

without anywhere to go. This was just the start of the problem. Many homeless people lived in places

called Skid Row. A place with cheap bars, entertainment, and very cheap housing in buildings called SROs,

or Single Room Occupancy. They could be rented from .50 to .90 cents a night. Then cities started to

grow, and in the mid 1970s One million SROs were replaced with parking lots, buildings and apartments.

Skid Row eventually vanished. Then the government decided to decriminalize drunkenness, loitering, and

vagrancy. That means there were a great many homeless people that would normally be arrested under

these conditions, still roaming the streets. Women and children started to f!

ilter in to the homeless scene, and then in a huge recession in the 1980s 11,000,000 people were laid off

(9.7% of all jobs). The numbers of homeless people soared. It didn't stop here though. President Reagan

and Bush dropped public housing funds from 30 billion dollars to 6.7 billion, a net loss of 37,800 houses

per year. By the beginning of the 1990s, over one million people were on waiting lists for homes.

Homeless people can be categorized into four basic categories, families, lone, transient, or bums.



A person in a family is usually a man and wife with one to many children living on the streets. A lone

person is that who has no connection to anybody and never travels, but stays in the same general area. A

transient is a person who never settles down for more than a few weeks, but keeps moving throughout cities

by means of walking and hitch hiking. Within these categories are sub-categories. These sub categories are

taken from a random group of 1,000 homeless people, and what their numbers would be.



CATEGORY PEOPLE

Families 220

Lone Individuals 780

Under 19 146

Women 229

Elderly Men 17

Veterans Men 188

Mentally Disabled Men 125

Disabled Men 28

Full Time Jobs 7

Part Time Jobs 27

Sporadic 78

Effort 173

Bum (Undeserving Homeless) 49



Even the people with full time jobs are in need of permanent residence. These people live on

eating scraps of food from trash cans, and possible meals from shelters on occasion, but those are usually

three times a week at dinner, or some other type of schedule. People who have homes rarely think, nor can

comprehend what terrible things that the homeless have to go through. They live in abandoned buildings,

cars, buses, boxes, on park benches and underground. They eat bits of old fruit and meat with the mold and

green sludge scrapped off. One man and his son used up their $60 of food stamps that they were giver for

two months. For a week they lived on ketchup and mustard. Within three days of the condiments

disappearing the boy had both his feet amputated due to frostbite. This was in New York.

There are some people who still have a spark of interest in finding jobs. They look for places to

work, and they try to establish an address and connections. If a homeless person is absolutely dedicated to

ending his own homelessness, he will most likely find his way out.

The one category that people assume all homeless fall into is the undeserving homeless, or

"bums". These are usually men in their 40s or 50s who sit around all day and do nothing. They don't try and

help themselves or others. They lie and cheat and honestly deserve nothing because they could never give

anything if they were forced to. They make up a very small group in fact, about 4% of all homeless.

Drugs are everywhere on the streets. It is estimated that 20% of all people living on the streets use

hard drugs daily. Such drugs as cocaine, heroine, and morphine