Dynamics in the Statistics of Homelessness
The entire globe has been struggling with problems of varied types for a long time. These range from manmade problems and natural calamities and include wars, famines, plagues and others. Needless to say, there are variations in the magnitude with which different countries are affected by these problems. While there are numerous manmade problems affecting the United States, none seems to be more deeply embedded in the country than Homelessness. There is relative difficult in determining the number of homeless individuals in the globe thanks to the varied legal definitions for the term. In fact, most studies count only individuals residing on the streets and shelters thanks to financial and methodical constraints (Layton & Shapcott, 2008). This technique, despite providing useful information pertaining to individuals using services such as soup kitchens, or individuals who are considerably easy to locate, may result in significant underestimation of the number of homeless individuals.
Research, however, shows that the entire globe is composed of about 100 million homeless people. Of course, there are variations in the statistics of different countries. It is worth noting that the demographics are always changing with time. Studies on the state of homelessness in 2000 placed the number at between 546, 356 to 1.2 million. This figure, however, has continued rising every year to the current figures of between 743, 788 and 1.35 million. Of course, there exist variations between the figures presented by studies depending on the research techniques and the definition.
However, there has been extremely little or no change in the homeless demographics with regard to gender, youth, marital status and age. In December 2000, a report showed that homeless single men made up 44% of homeless individuals while single women made up 13% of the same (Todd, 2005). There were also variations in individual races, with African Americans making 50% of the homeless people, whites 35%, 1% Asian, Hispanic 12% and Native Americans 2%. These figures have remained virtually unchanged throughout the years (Layton & Shapcott, 2008). Nevertheless, the number of homeless people has been on the rise since 2000. Currently, the number of homeless individuals is estimated at between 743, 500 and 1.23 million Americans.
Varied factors have contributed to variations in the increase in the number of homeless individuals in the United States. However, scholars note that homelessness fundamentally results from the inability of individuals to pay for their housing, in which case it is affected by income, as well as the affordability of the housing available (Todd, 2005). Studies done from 2009 to 2010 showed that three economic factors worsened. The research showed an increase in the number of households that used over 50% of their income on rent by about 6% (Thompson, 2012). In addition, unemployment increased by about 4% in the one year period, with 11 states experiencing more than 10% increase in the unemployment rates (Thompson, 2012). Foreclosure activity, as expected, increased by around 2% with research showing that one in every 45 housing units faced foreclosure. The only positive economic indicator within that period was with working poor people’s average real income, which increased by less than 1% (Thompson, 2012).
While it may be difficult to lay blame on any entity, it is evident that the government bears the greater part of the blame. The United States had misplaced priorities in the name of war against terror, which saw enormous funds being used in the war. This had a bearing on the taxes and the inflation rate, which ate deeper into the pockets of the poor and the middle class, as well (Thompson, 2012). This wastage of funds accelerated and inflated the effects of the recession that was experienced in 2007 and its return in 2011. It goes without saying that the wasted funds would have played an enormous role in cushioning the poor and improving the economic conditions, thereby decreasing homelessness (Thompson, 2012).
Todd, E. P. (2005). Homelessness: Is society looking the other way?. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Layton, J., & Shapcott, M. (2008). Homelessness: How to end the national crisis. Toronto: Penguin Canada.
Thompson, T. (2012). Homelessness. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.