Homelessness: Understanding a Crisis in Our Society

Homelessness is a wide ranging problem affecting people around the globe. Today, there are an estimated 582,462 individuals experiencing homelessness in America with 17,975 of those living individuals in Massachusetts, the sixth-highest homeless population in America. This is an issue that I feel the need to address and chose to investigate as part of my civics project. This article is about our need to learn about homelessness and find ways to help mitigate and solve the problem because it affects people, the workforce,  government spending and more. 

Homelessness can happen to anyone, regardless of who they are. It affects families, veterans, young people, and those dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. Homelessness doesn’t just happen to one type of person. Being mindful helps us be more understanding and caring. There are many reasons why someone might become homeless. Some reasons include not having enough affordable housing, income inequality, and not enough support from the government. Other reasons can be things like mental health problems, addiction, or problems in their family. According to the National Institute of Health, 30% to 40% of people who are homeless are exposed to addiction. 

Being homeless is very hard on people. They don’t have a stable place to live, so they’re exposed to bad weather and can’t always get enough food or medical care. Homeless people are also more likely to be victims of violence or abuse. It’s tough for them to get back on their feet and escape the cycle of poverty. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs. 

Homelessness isn’t just a problem of find a job or a place to live. Homelessness can lead to serious health problems. 20 people who experience homelessness die every day in America. Homeless people can get sick more quickly because they don’t have access to clean places to wash up or use the bathroom. They also often struggle with mental health problems like feeling sad or anxious. It’s important to think about healthcare, psychological and physical when we talk about solving homelessness.

The government has an important role in helping to solve homelessness. They can provide more money for affordable housing, improve access to mental health services, and create programs to help people in need. It’s also important for different organizations and communities to work together to provide shelters, food, clothes, and other support services for homeless individuals. Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, announced on May 4, 2023 that the city had been awarded $16.5 million over three years from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is one step out of many more that will be needed to fight homelessness in our state. By understanding why homelessness happens and how it affects individuals and communities, we can find ways to make a positive change. Providing affordable housing, improving healthcare, and working together as a community are important steps toward solving this crisis that can be solved.