Sadly, thousands of Americans are homeless. In 2017, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that 554,000 Americans around the country were without a home on a particular night. Even worse, 193,000 of those were unsheltered, meaning they were living rough on the streets without transitional housing or emergency shelters of any kind.
Homelessness does not have to be brought about by careless spending, laziness, or bad money management. That any population experiences homelessness is disturbing, from military veterans to children to women escaping domestic violence, but those who are chronically homeless due to serious health challenges may present some of the most unsettling cases.
Why Are People Chronically Homeless?
Ranked in 2017 as the richest nation on the richest continent, America nonetheless has many thousands of homeless people of all ages. It also has a large number of chronically homeless people. In fact, on a single, specific night in 2017, close to 87,000 people were considered chronically homeless. Of the total population of homeless in America, that makes up 24 percent.
People do not live persistently without a home due to choice. Many of the country’s chronically homeless suffer from long-term, serious health problems.
- Mental illness
- Physical disabilities
- Substance abuse syndromes
- Other medical conditions
Studies have found that most of the chronically homeless—almost 70 percent—live on the streets, in a park or a car, or squat in empty buildings or other unfit environments. Once people with difficult and complicated health problems lose their housing, it is often extremely difficult or, in some cases, impossible for them to get shelter. Being homeless can then exacerbate their conditions and lead to frequent episodes of poor health.
Alleviating Chronic Homelessness
Since 2007, the population of people with repeated patterns of chronic homelessness has declined about 27 percent, according to researchers, which is heartening. Still, for those currently battling both their health challenges and the dangers that come with living rough, more must be done. Permanent supportive housing is an established way to help the chronically homeless.
This type of housing for the homeless program combines a lodging subsidy with support services and case managers. Researchers have found such programs improve the well-being and health of the chronically homeless as well as providing them with a safe place to live. Permanent supportive housing is part of why the population of the chronically homeless has dropped since 2007. Health care experts, including physicians such as ophthalmologist and researcher Dr. Rohit Varma, are concerned with the issue of homelessness in America and seek ways to do away with this sad problem altogether. Supportive housing is a viable solution to do that.
Logistics of Helping
Studies from the Office of National Drug Control Policy have found that problems overlap for those with patterns of chronic homelessness. About 30 percent of the chronically homeless live with complex mental illnesses as well as other issues.
These individuals and families need multiple services and specialties to regain firm footing so they can maintain a home. Many American states view homelessness as a purely urban issue. However, it can occur in rural areas just as readily. Another challenge is that mental illness and severe emotional disorders can make it difficult for those affected to form attachments and trust others, whether relatives or social workers. Their first inclination may be to push everyone away, especially if they have lived through traumatic events and abuse.
Homelessness is a continuing problem for America, even though it is one of the world’s richest nations and the wealthiest country on the North American continent. Patterns of chronic homelessness are some of the most challenging, because often this population suffers from mental illness, physical disabilities, or other complex health problems. Agencies and social workers, however, continue to work hard to help the homeless so that, in the end, everyone will have a safe place to call home.
This article (Chronic Homelessness in one of the World’s Richest Countries) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2018. You may not copy, reproduce or publish any content therein without written permission. Feel free to share this article on social networks and via email. If you have questions, please contact us here.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.