America is supposed to be the richest nation in the world, and yet the number of homeless increases year after year. Currently, one of the concerns is that of returning Iraqi War veterans who have no jobs, may have lost their families and, often due to mental stress or other undiagnosed illness, are unable to work or find a home to support themselves. Yet, while housing seems to be the major problem homelessness can be caused by a variety of problems. And, the specter of poverty surrounds every aspect of being homeless: "(There are)myriad reasons--domestic abuse, drug addiction, a sick child and no health insurance--why educated young people can, and do, end up homeless" (Gonneman 2005 86). In her review of a book by a homeless Mom, Ms. Ganneman explains about the failure of the social safety net for those trying to qualify for Section 8-the federal program that provides housing vouchers to low-income people.
There are countless stories and editorials and TV documentaries about America's homeless. But, just who are they? Here are some disturbing statistics:
. 3.5 million people (1.35 million of which are children) will experience homelessness in a given year.
. Children under the age of 18 account for 39% of the homeless population. 42% of these are under the age of 5.
. 43% of the homeless population are women; 40% of these women are unaccompanied. 22% of homeless women claim domestic abuse as reason for homelessness. 25% of these claim to have been abused within the past year.
. Families with children comprise 33% of the homeless population.
. Vets constitute 40% of the homeless population.
. 1 in every 5 homeless persons has a severe or persistent mental illness.
. 25% of the homeless nationwide are employed.
("US Homeless Statistics" 2008 para. 1)
There are many critics of the way America is solving its homeless problems who wonde...