A significant social issue that Americans face is homelessness. For years the matter is a social issue that is linked to greater communal issues engrained in U.S history, such as racial, gender, as well as age disparities. As a consequence, the problem of homelessness in the country seems almost ubiquitous nowadays. Moreover, it lacks an efficient solution, particularly since the prosperity that has been achieved in the country over the past few years has left some of the nation’s most vulnerable behind. An analysis of homelessness shows that the misconceptions of the issue may be a reason why it is persistent, thus there is a need to know what group of people it affects the most and why.
The minority races in the U.S particularly African Americans are the most represented ethnicity when it comes to homelessness. According to Henslin and Fowler (2014), a community that is likely to suffer from high unemployment, substance abuse cases, and social prejudices is the most likely to be affected by homelessness. The minority races have these risk factors hence are the most affected by homelessness, a matter that seems to be supported by the latest national statistics. The 2019 survey by the Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that of the estimated 567,715 homeless people living in America 270,607, were white who make up a majority of the racial demography (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2019). However, at the same time, there were about 297, 108 minority homeless people of whom 225,735 were African Americans, 17,966 Native Americans, 9,311 pacific Islanders, 7,228 Asian Americans, and 36,868 were people of multiple races (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2019). These statistics indicate that the rate of homelessness is higher among the minority races as compared to the majority white and that the prevalence of homeless population differs among the different minority races, with African Americans being the most likely to be affected.
One of the primary causes of homelessness in the United States is inefficient affordable housing policies. When housing prices force typical households to spend more than 32 percent of their income on rent, those communities begin to experience rapid increases in homelessness. As explained by Glynn and Fox (2019), for housing to be considered as affordable, no more than 30% of gross income should be spent on total housing costs this includes rent, mortgage, as well as utilities. Under the current housing framework the United States is currently undergoing an affordable housing crisis because form 2013 to 2015, there was a rise in renters with worst-case housing needs. This would suggest a large population of individuals earning a minimum wage, in this case, African Americans have significantly low incomes that lead to homeliness. Additionally, because these individuals are not considered as jobless they do not receive government housing assistance an aspect that leads them to live in severely inadequate conditions that lead to an over-representation of the black race.
The aspect of Residential segregation has been linked with negative outcomes for Blacks when it comes to poverty and homelessness. Owens (2019), argued that residential segregation has been an underplayed aspect when discussing issues regarding the existence of the urban underclass and the proliferation of poverty in cities. Although there exists some information focusing on how minority groups are structurally segregated at the neighborhood level as well as the individual level; there is little that has been presented on the effects of countrywide homelessness. for instance, the study by Owens (2019), that showed how the phenomenon has led to lower high school graduation rates and single motherhood among Black women; nevertheless, it failed to show how it affected their families in the long term particularly when 55% of homeless African American families are of single mothers.
There is a notable decrease in the supply of affordable housing units in the U.S, coupled with an unfair distribution of the available units is an issue that has been an issue that remains undiscussed when it comes to the U.S housing policy. It is traditionally understood that there the U.S has a high rate of competition in the real estate market for affordable housing. As explained by Glynn and Fox (2019), it is currently challenging for anyone to obtain affordable units particularly in the cities and suburbs, this case then makes it particularly difficult on low-income renters who may have little time to search for units and less financial influence in negotiating rents. Additionally, just because affordable units are available for low-income renters does not mean that such units will be occupied by this demography. Glynn and Fox (2019), further states that, higher-income renters reside in 43.3% of the units meant for extremely low-income renters. With this in mind, it can be argued that the current U.S housing policy is a catalyst to the homeless particularly form minority races who majorly depend on minimum wages.
The case of homelessness in the U.S has for long been considered an individualistic issue where a majority of the society makes judgments based on an individual’s appearance and character. Financial burdens, affordable housing policy, as well as the lack of provision of social services such as mental healthcare affect particular the minority races when it comes to the issue of homelessness. Individuals who are often unemployed or underemployed, suffer from chronic and mental illnesses, as well as live in urban centers without enough resources are likely to be homeless. The African American race is the one most affected by poverty a social issue that can be directly linked to homelessness considering that underprivileged individuals are unable to cater to all their housing, food, child care, health care, and education bills.
Glynn, C., & Fox, E. B. (2019). Dynamics of homelessness in urban America. The Annals of Applied Statistics, 13(1), 573-605.
Henslin, J. M., & Fowler, L. A. (2014). Social problems: A down-to-earth approach. Pearson.
Owens, A. (2019). Building Inequality: Housing Segregation and Income Segregation. Sociological Science, 6, 497.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2019). The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Retrieved from http: https://files.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2019-AHAR-Part-1.pdf