Homelessness

IN the UNITED STATES and ITS INFLUENCE on CHILD DEVELOPMENT

People Without Homes

Points to Ponder

CONTRIBUTING CONSIDERATIONS

Snapshots of Homelessness

The Number of Homeless

Facts about homelessness in the United States

Homelessness Portrayed

Cutout Children

NATIONAL LAW CENTER on HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY

Sexual Abuse

Rural Homelessness

Homeless Children with Disabilities

In Their Own Words

Erik Erikson's Theory

Carol Gilligan

Grounded in Listening

More Factors Associated with Homelessness

Homelessness Devastating Impact

Recognizing Needs

Countering Causes

Do Something

Snapshot of Homeless Population in U.S.

Figure 2: Number of Homeless People in Each State

Figure 3: Manuel Hernandez

Figure 6: Waiting for the Shelter to Open

Figure 5: Life-size Cutout of Young Homeless Girl

Figure 6: Life-size Cutout of Young Homeless Boy

Table 1: Grid Depicting Erikson's Theory

Table 2: Erikson's Eight Psychosocial Crisis Stages

HOMELESSNESS

IN the UNITED STATES and ITS INFLUENCE on CHILD DEVELOPMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

People who are homeless are not social inadequates.

They are people without homes."

Sheila McKechnie, Director...Homeless (Simpson, 1998)

People Without Homes

When children are homeless, their basic needs such as food and shelter are unmet, while medical needs, mental health and life skills needs are limited. Available services for homeless individuals, according to Aviles & Helfrich (2004), "typically include housing, education, employment, and emergency health care while planning and support are not provided." To gain a lucid understanding of needs homeless youth experience, Aviles & Helfrich (2004) contend, youth's experiences and perceptions of homelessness need to be understood. The study by Aviles & Helfrich (2004) utilizes life history narratives which reveal how some youth perceive being homeless.

Purpose of this Study

This researcher's paper includes some perceptions youth reportedly possess, albeit, it also proposes to point out a number of other considerations, such as the one by McKechnie, that homeless people are not socially inadequate. Points Gilligan (2006) makes are also noted. Gilligan (2006) notes that when children are homeless, they experience: "isolation of the family, disruptions to schooling, shelter crowding, a loss of parental autonomy, and substandard living conditions." When homeless, the children, who are "people without homes" (Simpson, 1998), experience devastating impacts, personally and in their educational realm. Every time a child changes moves and changes schools, his/her education is disrupted. Homeless families traditionally move frequently. Some researchers estimate homeless children lose 3-6 months of education each time they move. (Institute for Children and Poverty, 2003, cited by Education of Homeless Children, 2008) the determination to write this paper evolved after this researcher's personal experiences volunteering to work with homeless individuals in shelters.

During this time, seeing children who did not have homes and some of the impacts homelessness has upon them strengthened this researcher's resolve to develop a paper that reiterates a story already told many times, but one that needs to again be told and heard.

Points to Ponder

Children and families make up the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. There are as many as 500,000 families in shelters nationwide and 1.35 million homeless children each year. (Homes for the Homeless: Reports and Statistics, 2006, cited by LOW-INCOME and HOMELESS CHILDREN, 2007)

The average age for a homeless child in the U.S. is 6 years. (Homes for the Homeless: Reports and Statistics, 2006, cited by LOW-INCOME and HOMELESS CHILDREN, 2007)

Poverty and lack of affordable housing are principal causes of homelessness in America. Declining wages and changes in welfare programs contribute to many families becoming poor. Combined with skyrocketing Fair Market Values across the United States, especially in large cities such as DC, suitable housing has been placed out of reach for many families. (National Coalition for the Homeless: Homeless Families with Children, June 2006, cited by LOW-INCOME and HOMELESS CHILDREN, 2007)

Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, stresses: "The driver in homelessness is the affordable housing crisis. If we don't do something to address the crisis in affordable housing we are not going to solve homelessness." (Study, 2007) One particular estimate by Schreuders, Salmon & Stewardson (2007) particularly troubles this researcher. According to these authors, during 2004, approximately 1,365,000 children in the United States were as McKechnie (Simpson, 1998) purports, "people without homes."

During the next segment of this study, this researcher presents some poignant portraits of the children.

II. CONTRIBUTING CONSIDERATIONS

And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,

And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food." www.bartleby.com/100/337.html" William Wordsworth (1770-1850) (Bartlett, 2000)

Snapshots" of Homelessness

During the '50s, a "snapshot" feature published in USA Today listed the five primary concerns parents and teachers reported regarding children:

talking out of turn, chewing gum in class, doing homework, stepping out of line, cleaning their a rooms. (Columbia, 1996)

Approximately 50 years later, the list was updated and expanded to eight, while it related contemporary concerns for children to include:

drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, suicide and homicide, gang violence, anorexia and bulimia.

AIDS, poverty, and homelessness.... (Columbia, 1996)

The Number of Homeless

During 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade, the number of known homeless people in the United States totaled 744,000 in 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade. Most homeless people are single adults, however approximately 41% were in families. This study, however serves only as a baseline as "counting people without permanent addresses, especially those living on the street, is an inexact process." (Study, 2007) Another report, for example, states: "During 2004, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (2004) reported that this during 2003, more than 3.5 million Americans were homeless." (Schreuders, Salmon & Stewardson, 2007)

During 1996, a study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development from service providers throughout the United States, estimated the number of homeless individuals ranged between 444,000 and 842,000. (Study, 2007) little more than half the homeless individual noted by the 1996 Department of Housing and Urban Development study were living in shelters. Approximately one fourth of these individuals were chronically homeless, according to the report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an advocacy group. (Study, 2007) a majority of the homeless were single adults, but about 41% were in families, the report said. Estimated numbers of homeless people are reflected in the following article excerpt:

The best approximation is from a study done by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty which states that approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2007). These numbers, based on findings from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Urban Institute and specifically the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers, draw their estimates from a study of service providers across the country at two different times of the year in 1996. They found that, on a given night in October, 444,000 people (in 346,000households) experienced homelessness - which translates to 6.3% of the population of people living in poverty. On a given night in February, 842,000 (in 637,000 households) experienced homelessness - which translates to almost 10% of the population of people living in poverty. Converting these estimates into an annual projection, the numbers that emerge are 2.3 million people (based on the October estimate) and 3.5 million people (based on the February estimate). This translates to approximately 1% of the U.S. population experiencing homelessness each year, 38% (October) to 39% (February) of them being children (Urban Institute 2000). It is also important to note that this study was based on a national survey of service providers. Since not all people experiencing homelessness utilize service providers, the actual numbers of people experiencing homelessness are likely higher than those found in the study, Thus, we are estimating on the high end of the study's numbers: 3.5 million people, 39% of which are children. (Schreuders, Salmon & Stewardson, 2007)

Presenting an accurate "snapshot" of the number of homeless people proves difficult due to the fluidity of the homeless population. Another part of the challenge for accurate measurements stems for varying methodologies used to measure homelessness. "Some researchers attempt to count all the people who are literally homeless on a given day or during a given week, called a "point-in-time" count. Critics say this method is likely to overestimate the number of chronically homeless and underestimate the number of people who experience temporary homelessness." (Homeless Facts, 2007) One other method for trying to count the number of homeless people involves examining the number of people reportedly homeless during a particular period of time, also called a "period prevalence" count. Challenges involving standardizing measurements counter this method. Including the duration of counting and time of year of counting also affect components considered in measuring homeless rates. (Homeless Facts, 2007)

The following figure portrays pictures of homeless people in the United States

Figure 1: Snapshot of Homeless Population in U.S. (POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS, 2007)

Facts about homelessness in the United States

What is the definition of homelessness?

Different definitions of homelessness are used in different contexts. Generally, homelessness is defined as…