These writers state, "Today in America, over 600,000 families and more than 1,000,000 children are homeless, living in shelters, on the streets, in cars, and on campgrounds. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency shelter by families increased an average of 22% in 2001 and 17% the year before" (Nunez, and Caruso). This article dates from 2003, when the economy was still riding high, so these numbers have to have increased dramatically since then. It is even more remarkable that so many families are homeless in a nation that is so technologically and economically advanced, and even more remarkable that more than 1,000,000 children are homeless. Those numbers are shocking and disturbing at the same time.

In many areas, families can find low-cost housing that will allow them to remain together, and some shelters are allowing families to remain together while they are in the shelters. In other areas, shelters provide one or two-room "apartments" where families can try to make a semblance of normal life while they attempt to get back on their feet and find housing. However, the numbers show that for a majority of families, they remain homeless for months or even years at a time, and that trend is increasing. Families that are homeless have little hope in many areas of the country, and they are raising children who may see the future with little hope, as well.

In Florida, a reporter put himself out on the streets to experience just what it was like to be homeless. He writes, "And now comfort is a dry piece of cardboard to sleep on, two burgers for two dollars from Burger King, and this belief that what I'm doing by living this reality will someday serve a higher purpose" (Latham). What he experienced was violence, hunger, loneliness, and a feeling of gratitude that he actually had a home to go back to when his experiment was done. He sleeps on the beach, is beaten by five men who want his backpack (right in front of a closed homeless shelter), and he washes up in gas station bathrooms. He continues, "In these days of living the life, I've been beaten up and robbed, fractured a foot, and lost my top front tooth. Now I look like a freak" (Latham). He also notes that in Florida, 29% of the homeless are children 18 and under, and 25% of the homeless are mentally ill (Latham). Reporter Latham spends six weeks as a homeless person before he ends his experiment. He notes that many of the people he met on the streets were drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill, or "shallow souls," but that many were just people down on their luck and without resources, like many of the homeless families on the streets. He writes, "The homeless have become dirty, discarded books that nobody wants to read. Allen Ginsberg once wrote: 'There is no shame in the dignity of experience.' And he was correct. The shame I felt during my research was for a society that, as George Orwell wrote, 'is in conspiracy against its members'" (Latham). He discovered what most people know, that being homeless "sucks," and is completely demeaning and hopeless, as well (Latham).

In conclusion, homelessness is a major problem in the country, and it costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year in health care, shelter care, subsidized housing, and more, and yet, not all those dollars are solving the problem. If anything, it is getting worse as the economy continues to spiral out of control. Homeless families are one of the growing statistics in homelessness, and there are even fewer resources to help families get back on their feet and emerge from homelessness. Many of the homeless are mentally ill, addicts, or have other issues, but many more are decent people just looking for a decent life, and more should be done to help them realize their dreams.


Chamberlain, Chris, and Guy Johnson. "The Debate about Homelessness." Australian Journal of Social Issues 36.1 (2001): 35.

Latham, Buffalo. "The Art of Homelessness." The Humanist Jan.-Feb. 2002: 20+.

Nunez, Ralph Da Costa, and Laura…