Homeless Problem Essay, Research Paper
Many homeless people have mental illnesses and it is not easy for them to restart their lives and get a job. Many of them also have drug or alcohol problems, which makes it very difficult to get a long term job making enough income to support themselves. Homeless people need help getting off the streets but are unable to do it by themselves. People should not just give the homeless the cold shoulder and keep on walking like nothing is wrong. In order for the homeless problem to stop, we the people must make it end by helping the less fortunate get to shelters or to some other source of help.
Fifty percent of the homeless in America today struggle with mental diseases (Kraljic pg11). These diseases make it hard to associate normally with people. The three most common diseases they suffer from are schizophrenia, bipolar condition, and major depression (Mental 1). Schizophrenia, a disease of the brain, is one of the most disabling and emotionally devastating illnesses known to man. Schizophrenia is characterized by major disruption in thinking abilities and emotions which affects the most basic human needs: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of self. The most common symptoms are hallucinations and/or delusions. This causes a person to act differently and have suspicion and fear of human contact (Mental 1). Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a common illness shown by episodes of mania and major depression. A person’s mood can change from excessive highs (mania) to major hopelessness (depression), usually with periods of normal mood in between. This condition really makes it hard to associate normally with people. Clinical depression is an illness characterized by a bunch of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are very different from a person’s normal feelings and actions (Mental pg1). During a major depression, a person becomes surrounded by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and worthlessness. These feelings affect every thought and experience, making life seem meaningless and hopeless. All three of these diseases and conditions make it terribly hard for them to try and get a job and earn some sort of income. Even if they do try to get a job, most people will not hire them because of the fact that they are straight off the streets and have these diseases.
Alcohol and drug abuse are very high among the homeless population. Being homeless is commonly a reason why people start drinking and start taking drugs. They feel as though they can wash their problems away by taking drugs or drinking. When they do this, they are just making their problems worse and can eventually lead them to serious addictions. When they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is almost impossible to be let into any sort of program to get them out of homelessness. This is a main contributor to why there are still many homeless people out there. Most have problems with drinking or using which means they cannot be put into programs which leads them back to the streets.
California is a very unique state in that it has been trying to solve the homeless problem. It has started really looking at the issues leading to homelessness rather than covering them up (HB article) A program in San Rafael called Homeward Bound has been successful for 25 years helping the homeless. Fortunately the community has supported the program which has led many individuals out of homelessness. The program believes that it does not just take the individual to help him or herself, it takes us as people to listen, learn, and lend a hand to the homeless. There are facilities available to the homeless and the differences among them lie accordingly to each person s specific need. There are shelters for men, women, families, the mentally ill, and for people dealing with substance abuse. Homeward Bound sees the bigger picture and not only has shelter for temporary homeless, but also for those who need more time finding housing and a job. Homeward bound provides numerous resources to assist individuals out of homelessness permanently. Another program that is owned by Homeward Bound that helps the poor is The New Beginnings Center. Excluding the building itself, everything from pencils to beds are donated by various private groups. The center takes in homeless people who have lost their jobs and cannot afford to own a house, people who have had a family breakup, people who have mismanaged their money and people with drug and alcohol problems. They have a zero tolerance rule which makes it hard for those with drug and alcohol problems. It is tough for people who have had a long term addiction to drugs and/or alcohol because they have a chemical dependency for it.
Unfortunately, there is a segment of the homeless population who are not interested in improving their living situation. They are content with with existing on what little they can get from handouts on the streets. Then there are those who intentionally have more children so they can receive more money from the states welfare program. This is a bad way of cheating the system. What will end up happening is that the parent won t be able to get a job and will not have the money he or she needs to raise the kids properly.
People end up on the streets for many reasons. In some cases, peoples families give up on them and they are left to survive on their own. They have no place to go and no money to use so they are left to the streets. It is a common problem for the mentally ill to stop taking their medication because they feel they don t need it anymore. When this happens, they can go into a state of mania and decide that they do not need help and can survive on their own without the medication. Without their medication it is very hard for them to associate with people and they can somehow find their way to the streets. Another reasons they stop taking their medication is because they fear that the medicine is hurting their bodies and cannot take it anymore (Homeless pg1).
There are many barriers to treatment for the homeless. Homeless people typically do not have health insurance, including Medicaid. This means that few homeless people with an addiction to drugs or alcohol are not able to find the resources they need to pay for their own treatment. Also, there are big waiting lists for addiction treatment in most states: the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors estimated that in 1997, over one million people were waiting for treatment nationwide (Info X pg1). People who are not easy to contact, such as homeless people, are often dropped from the lists.
Other barriers to treatment include lack of transportation, lack of documentation, lack of supportive services, and drug free programming. The majority of drug rehabs focuses on staying clean and sober as their number one goal. Absolute lifetime abstinence is not a reality for most of the people with addictions to drugs or alcohol; relapse is an expected thing to happen in the course of treatment of the disease. This means that it makes it very hard for homeless people with addictions to get into drug rehabs and programs.
As a country, the people of the United States needs to help the homeless because they cannot do it by themselves. We need to set up many more programs that serve the needs of the homeless who are mentally ill, and chemically dependent. More programs such as Homeward Bound are greatly needed. What we should not have are places that kick people out when they relapse. The government needs to help them with their diseases and give them the medication they need to get better without them going through too much trouble. They also need to somehow take a percentage of our taxes and put it towards helping the homeless by building more shelters or rehabilitaion centers structured towards their needs. Basic training is needed for the homeless so they can get jobs and start there life over for the better. We should not and cannot turn away from the homeless, we need to give them a helping hand up and give them the opportunities they need to live better lives.