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The Truth about Homelessness

Updated on November 6, 2015
Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisa is a substitute teacher who studies English Literature. She lives to write and is following her dream of becoming a professor.

Homeless people litter the streets; one can see people begging on street corners or sleeping on park benches. A person looks the other way in disgust, when asked, if they could spare some change. Chants of “get a job” echo through the air. A common belief in society today is that homeless people should be able to help themselves; therefore homelessness must be a choice. Sometimes reality is not so black and white. Homelessness has become a major problem in America. In Florida alone, last year, 50,000 people, from different backgrounds were counted, among the homeless (Sheldon2009). Homelessness is a unique problem that needs a different solution what is being done about homelessness today is not enough.

The characteristics of homelessness

In Florida alone last year more than 50,000 people were homeless, and this number is expected to increase. The Interim Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families Gregory Sheldon Stated “The issues of homelessness remain rooted in the problems of poverty and the lack of affordable housing for the low income” (Sheldon, 2009, p.4). The reasons people become homeless are as diverse as the individual who has become homeless. Close to 20% of homeless people live on the streets or in shelters; because they believe this is the only option they have, to protect them from a violent home life.

Moreover, a startling 50% of the homeless populations were just average taxpaying citizens until the economy took a downturn and so many jobs were lost (Sheldon, 2009). Without income many people, who do not have the support of family or friends to rely on, have no other choice but to give up their homes and live on the streets. Because of the lack of jobs and affordable housing the number of homeless people will continue to increase. However, even as the numbers of homeless citizens grow the revenue dedicated to helping Floridians with food and shelter steadily decreases. In his annual report on homeless conditions in Florida Sheldon explains that because the local government has a decreased budget the amount of money for human services has decreased. Also, local homeless programs report a drop in donations (Sheldon, 2009).

Additionally, nearly 45% of the homeless population has debilitating conditions such as drug addiction, alcohol dependency, or mental illness (Sheldon, 2009). Some people become homeless because of these reasons though; some people develop these conditions after becoming homeless. When one is faced with a desperate situation, one sometimes turns to a crutch such as alcohol or drugs to numb them from the pain.

In the same way, the author of; A Comparison of Weight Related Behaviors among High School Students Who are Homeless and Non-Homeless, believed that the homeless population has risky eating habits so; the author conducted a study on high school students. The results of this study are that 95% of homeless students have an eating disorder or poor nutritional habits (Fournier & Austin, 2009). Eating disorders are classified as a mental illness; in this instance a teenager who has no control of anything in their lives may be more apt to crave the control of what goes into their own body. Teenagers are not adults, and as youths they crave a structured living environment. Indeed, being homeless creates problems other than being without a home; those who find themselves homeless are drawn to risky behaviors as a coping mechanism.


Almost half of the homeless population in Florida find there selves homeless for the second, third, or even fourth time. Sixty one percent of homeless people remain homeless for three months or more. Many of the people who find themselves homeless more than one time, suffer from drug addiction, alcohol dependency, mental illness, or an anxiety disorder. If people are not properly rehabilitated, this may lead to a cycle of homelessness. In 2009, the downfall in the economy is dramatically illustrated by the number of people, finding their selves homeless for the first time. However, it is clear the plan in action now to prevent homelessness is not working; this is illustrated by the number of people homeless for at least the fourth time.

The cycle of addiction starts over for many homeless people when they get back in touch with their old friends. When people suffer from debilitating conditions and try to go back to a normal life, they are faced with the very temptations that they are trying so hard to avoid. According to Douglas Polcin if a person who is being treated for drug and alcohol dependency is not going home to a nurturing environment; then they should not go home. He believes that a person who goes home to old friends may be going home to bad habits. According to Polcin “A major challenge facing many individuals attempting to abstain from substances is finding a stable living environment that supports sustained recovery” (Polcin, 2009, p1). This is particularly true for the homeless because their living environment is especially conducive to addiction.


More needs to be done in Florida to address issues of chronic homelessness

More can be done to prevent chronic Homelessness

When a person becomes homeless, they usually find there selves staying with family and friends, or sleeping on the streets, or in a homeless shelter. However, many people who stay with friends during their first or second instance of homelessness find that they have worn out their welcome and are faced with the decision between living on the streets or in a shelter. Most shelters will provide food and lodging but little more in the way of human services. These shelters are designed, for temporarily getting people off the streets, not to help them become self sufficient.

Some shelters, such as the Homeless coalition of Florida, offer more than just a hot meal and cot. They offer help with programs such as childcare, parenting classes, mental health counseling, and housing assistance (Homeless coalition, 2010). These are remarkable programs but, in order for a person to become truly rehabilitated certain steps must be taken. First, a person will need to have a complete evaluation before entering the homeless shelter. This will help determine the resources that will be needed. In- house rehab should be mandated for any resident suffering from an addiction. Psychological evaluations and counseling should be provided.

In fact, Augusto De Venanzi wrote these telling words, “Those individuals or groups who are severely stigmatized suffer the double humiliation in knowing that they carry a discrediting condition and that "normal" people would not be able fully to comprehend the root of their problems” (Venanzi, 2008, P.16). He is saying, when one lives such a life, in which he or she is looked upon as vermin; one is bound to suffer some degree of mental illness. A successful homeless shelter will lead an individual to self-sufficiency. When a person enters a homeless shelter a strict plan should be written up and followed. However, the key to a person becoming truly self-sufficient when left to their own accord is mandatory weekly follow-ups for one- year.

In conclusion, there are many factors in why the number of homeless citizens continues to grow. For example, the economy continues to suffer, and so do the people. Although many people do not have a drug or alcohol problem when they first become homeless, many times people develop these habits as a way of numbing their pain. This is especially true for homeless youth; in need of a structured living environment. Therefore, if the cycle of chronic homelessness is ever going to be eradicated, the system for helping these people must change. If people had access to strict programs, so that they may receive the help that they need; they would have a chance of becoming a success story and not just another statistic. Homelessness is a unique problem that needs a different solution, what is being done about homelessness today is not enough.



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    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 months ago from Florida

      I wish I could help. I do not have much money. I am raising three teenage daughters, and three large dogs, off of one income. I will try to help as much as I can, when I get paid next Friday.

    • profile image

      Melissa Naujoks 

      7 months ago

      Please help! I am out of time, and money, and my hope is running out.. please.. help...

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Thanks for addressing this issue. I just hated hearing the ringing "get a job" comments when I was living in my car. At the time I actually still had a job but it was part time and not enough to pay for housing. The problem is everywhere and is only now getting a little better.



    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      4 years ago from Florida

      Highvoltage, I completely agree! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, and comment!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 

      4 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Then there are those like myself that live in both worlds. I live in a tent but also spend much of my time volunteering for a church and other organizations. One of the things I have learned from my experience is that becoming homeless can happen to anyone!

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Frank, Thank you so much for your kind comment!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      wow lisa you've covered the homeless situation like a blanket.. pulls at my heart.. a great hub :)

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Rajan, Thank you so much for your kind comment!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting read. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Nat Amaral, You are correct; a good support system is almost essential in turning one's life around.My heart goes out to those poor souls who have nobody. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Nat Amaral profile image

      Nat Amaral 

      6 years ago from BC Canada

      A good write. I'm so glad someone pointed this out. I know people who have dealt with this sad fact of life first-hand. It's never easy, but the few that I know who had lived on the streets now have places. Change is never easy, but if you have family and friends, help is never out of reach.

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Cebutourtistspot, That is a sad but true reality there are always some people whether they are homeless or not who want life handed to them and will take advantage of assistance rather than use it as a stepping stone. However, I stand by my belief that most people are not like this, most people would appreciate a helping hand and indeed, use it to better themselves!

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Christollesseb, I could not agree more with you! I would have no problem signing a petition I am a big believer in letting your voice be heard! I know of a website that a petition can be started for just this sort of thing. If you would like the information let me know!

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Eye say, Thank you for your kind comment!!

    • cebutouristspot profile image


      6 years ago from Cebu

      This is an interesting hubs but I believe that the government should help people willing to help themselves my they be homeless or unemployed. Here in my country even how corrupt the government is they always have budget for relocation for those who squat on lots that dont belong to them. Sadly right after they get relocated to a lot granted to them by the government majority of them turn around and sell them and go to another area and squat on another lot. This is a huge problem in my country.

    • christollesseb profile image


      6 years ago from UK ME ASIA

      A great Hub that shows the problem from all sides. Life without a safety net is truly stressful & enough to tip anyone over the edge. It is a shocking fact that the rich get richer. It's a sad reflection on our society that it allows the poor and vulnerable to suffer. It really is time that we the 99% get organized in every way we can to get this corrupted system changed. To get sufficient funding allocated to help sort out these problems. We watched the Banks get bailed out with our taxpayers money, yet they still award themselves obscene bonuses, while the needy continue to lose everything. Maybe we can get a petition organized here and get the ball rolling? Voted across & Up! Thanks, Christo.

    • eye say profile image

      eye say 

      6 years ago from Canada

      excellent hub - needs to be said over and over again apparently ... thank you for publishing this

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you very much for writing this.

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Thank you!

    • Deni Edwards profile image

      Deni Edwards 

      6 years ago from california

      Very nice hub, Lisawilliamsj. It is always refreshing to see another person who has their head on straight about this topic and who attempts to educate the ones who don't quite grasp these things.

    • BetteMachete profile image


      7 years ago

      Voted you up and as useful. I agree with everything you are saying. It breaks my heart for myself and people who are struggling.

    • Lisawilliamsj profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa Chronister 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you!!

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      fabulous hub write thanks


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