Interpreting the Homeless Population in America
The issue of homelessness has become one of the main areas of focus since the onset of the 21[st] century. According to Levinson (2004), people are regarded as homeless when they are unable to maintain their individual housing situation, thus being forced to stay with a friend, extended family members or even on the streets. There are many causes of homelessness. Some of them include apartment evictions, foreclosures of homes, lack of support from family or friends, domestic violence especially to women and children, lack of affordable housing to the poor by the urban housing projects among other notable factors (Katz, 2003).
The Homeless as a Vulnerable Population
The homeless population is a social group, which is vulnerable due to high levels of risk for adverse health-related outcomes such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, mental health problems, substance abuse problems, bronchitis and pneumonia. TB in the homeless population is also a public health concern, as people experiencing homelessness have a high occurrence of factors, which raise the risk of TB. These factors include HIV infection, substance abuse as well as congregation in crowded shelters. In addition, homeless people often lack ready access to the required medical care to make an early diagnosis of TB (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
Exposure to outdoor elements and unhygienic living conditions can lead to frostbite, leg ulcers, wound and skin infections. Furthermore, living on the street makes those who are homeless to have high vulnerability to abuse. For instance, many homeless women are victims of domestic or sexual abuse, while high rates of emotional and behavioural problems are experienced by homeless children, often from having witnessed abuse. In addition, there have been more than 600 attacks against homeless people over the last decade, for example homeless people have been brutally attacked with chains, baseball bats, and other weapons (Denkens, 2005).
Families are also torn apart due to homelessness and while some shelters won`t take boys, others won`t accept children either. Many times mothers watch helplessly as their children are taken from them and placed in foster care or with relatives. Being homeless also takes a dreadful toll on children consequently, these children have higher rates of stomach problems, ear infections as well as asthma in comparison to children their age. Further, they are highly likely to appear anxious, withdrawn or depressed and have more difficulty in school than their peers (Koegel et al, 1996).
Current Statistics on Homelessness in the United States
According to the 2012 report published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there was a 1% decrease in the nation`s homeless population it went down from 643,067 in 2009 to 636,017 in 2011 (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013). The largest decrease of 11 percent was among homeless veterans, who decreased to 67,495 in 2011 as compared to 75,609 in 2009. Furthermore there was a decrease of 3 percent among the chronic homeless people from 110,911 in 2009 to 107,148 in 2011 (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2013). The decrease is connected with a raise from 188,636 in 2007 to 266,968 in 2011 in the number of permanent supportive housing beds which helped end chronic homelessness. An enormous number of homeless people counted were either in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, but almost 4 in 10 were living on the streets. There was an increase of 2 percent among the unsheltered population from 239,759 in 2009 to 243,701 in 2011. In addition, there was a 1 percent national decrease in the number of individuals in homeless families (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2012).
Federal and State Policies on Homelessness
There are several policies dealing with homelessness such as Housing First, offers housing to those who are and having the challenge of substance abuse or mental health issues (Weed, 2012). The program was started by the federal government`s ICH (Interagency Council on Homelessness). HEARTH Act of 2009 was signed by the President Barrack Obama on May 20, 2009 and the main intention of the legislation was to provide principle definitions regarding homelessness.
The Role of Nurses to the Homeless Population
As a result of their increased risk to diseases and substance abuse, the homeless population is always in dire need of medical attention and nursing care is a critical part of it. According to Levinson (2004), the level of satisfaction of those who are homeless improves significantly, when offered services by healthcare providers such as nurses among others. This way, they are able to prevent instances such as suicide among other vices, which leads to early deaths among the homeless.
Homelessness is a social condition that increased in frequency and severity across America. Various interventions can be used to end and prevent homelessness, such as effective case management and affordable housing provision. The crisis response system must also be improved to help reduce the 40 percent of unsheltered homeless people. In general, high housing costs and low incomes and, combined with a lack of supportive service make many people vulnerable to homelessness. Generally, there is the need to ensure that, the issue of homelessness is critically dealt with as solving this will ensure that, countries attain the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) among other targets set across the world.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Homelessness Is a Risk Factor for TB
Denkens BA. (2005). Are we really helping? The problem of dual diagnoses, homelessness & hospital-hopping. J Pyschosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 200543(11):48-50.
Katz, I. (2003). Homelessness, Crime, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse: A Core Population with Multiple Social Service Needs. Department of Urban Planning and Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Koegel, P. et al. (1996).The Causes of Homelessness,” in Homelessness in America 1996. Oryx Press.
Levinson, D. (2004). Encyclopedia Of homelessness(Vol 2).Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Koegel, P. et al. (1996). The Causes of Homelessness,” in Homelessness in America. Oryx Press.
Levinson, D. (2004). Encyclopedia Of homelessness (Vol 2).Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
National Alliance to End Homelessness (2013). Web. Accessed on 28 April 2013 from,
Weed, B. (2012). Healthy People 2012 empowers practitioners and community leaders to promote healthful living. Accessed on 28 April 2013 from,
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