The Homeless Crisis 2023
Written by Ken McQueary
Photo from Breaking Through
According to the Becker Friedman Institute “on a given night there are 500,000-600,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, about one-third of whom are sleeping on the streets and two-thirds in shelters.” The homelessness crisis is definitely not new, and has been around for years—yet has not been solved. Before attempting to solve this issue, we must first define what homelessness is in the United States, the underlying reasons as to why individuals are homeless, and what is actively being done to help.
The dictionary defines being homeless as “the state of having no home,” but it is much more than that. After further research it is more extensive than that. The most used definition of being homeless is “an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or places not meant for habitation” (SAMHSA). However, this is not the only reason to deem someone homeless. Being homeless also looks like an individual or family who is going to lose their house within 14 days and have no housing plans lined up after. It could look like someone fleeing domestic violence, and has no resources of further housing. As well as children who qualify for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. This issue is much more complicated than someone just not having a home.
Homelessness simply put, is just a symptom or result of a deeper underlying problem going on in an individual or family's life. There are several circumstances that can lead to being homeless, such as drug and alcohol addiction. In the United States, addiction is one of the most common contributing factors to being homeless. According to the Arlington Life Shelter, 68% of U.S. cities report that addiction is the single largest cause of homelessness. Along with addiction, domestic abuse plays a huge role in the cause as well. Nationally 50% of homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence. Other issues like poverty, mental illness, criminal record, lack of job skills, lack of affordable housing, and parental disownment of children are all huge factors that contribute to the rise of being homeless. However, there is no possible way of solving this crisis, until we can solve these issues first.
Starting in the year 2023, the homelessness crisis is a key focus of the Biden administration. The latest released plan focuses on trying to keep people from losing their housing in the first place. According to npr, “the new plan includes a range of ways to boost the supply of affordable housing, as well as increase the number of emergency shelters and support programs.
But its biggest change is a call for the ‘systematic prevention of homelessness,’ focusing on those who are struggling to keep them from losing their housing” (Luden). If this all goes according to plan, this would reduce the number of unsheltered people to 25% by the year 2025. The administration is asking local governments and states to use this as a model to reduce the number even more. In the past year, most of the people that lacked housing were people of color, and the plan is aimed to address this.
Even though homelessness occurs everywhere in the world, the United States clearly has a huge issue with people living on the street. Hopefully with this new plan from the Biden Administration, we will see a huge decrease in the amount of people losing their homes, and fewer people on the streets and in shelters in the upcoming years.