Sample Urban Studies Paper on Homelessness


It is believed that the origin of homelessness is traced back to the colonial America. As early as the 1940s, the English vagrants were regarded as outcast people and the police were after them. The homeless were regarded as beggars and they were found in colonial towns. Baltimore and Philadelphia had a more significant number of homeless people than any other town in America. In the 1940s, homelessness was seen as a moral deficiency, a character flaw. The problem of homelessness was brought about by the war against the native people. Most colonies were forced to move out of their homes to seek shelter in coastal areas. As the war continued between French and Indians, it threatened the security of some families and they were forced to become refugees across the frontier areas including New England and New Yolk.

It is during the World War II that Los Angeles became a stopping point for people who were looking for new jobs and the soldiers who were shipping off to pacific. Therefore, the need to entertain this emerging population provided for the construction of the substandard building. By 1960s, the city authority realized that some building were unsafe and therefore needed to be demolished for human safety. These demolitions resulted in a substantial displacement of the population that had occupied the buildings, most of whom could not afford to live in any other place.

Notably, the problem of homelessness increased during the American Revolution as many individuals soon after the war were forced into homeliness due to insufficient needs. As homelessness grew, it came to federal attention that they needed to act to stop it. In 1983, the first federal task force on homelessness was formed and as a result, the Homelessness Survival Act was enacted n both houses of congress in 1986(McKinney, 2006).This Act provided for emergency relief measures and long time solutions to homeliness. The Homelessness Eligibility Clarification Act of 1986 provided for the solution that ended the problems associated with the permanent address and other social barriers.

Poverty was considered as the main cause of homelessness. It acts as a driving factor that forces many people to go to the streets around the globe. In 2000, it was estimated that 11.3 percent of the U.S population lived below poverty line, many of whom were homeless. Even though the government has provided some shelter for homeless people, overcrowding forces many individuals to live in the streets.

The Emergency Shelter Commission for Boston public health commission report that Boston has the highest rates of family homelessness and there are no affordable housing resources aligned to the emergency system (Bharel, 2013). However, the commission is focusing on a specific group of homelessness as a way to begin to solve the problem permanently. It is targeting homeless veterans in the wake of a challenge laid down by the Obama administration.

Comparatively, the Boston commission’s strategies prevent people from moving back to the streets and have a bipartisan financial support for housing veterans. Political leaders are also included in making the laws that consider the issues faced by the homelessness veterans put aside resources for allocation to the homeless. A similar initiative is adopted by Los Angeles in trying to alleviate homelessness.

Finally, there exist similarities for both Los Angeles and Boston in their struggle to end homelessness and therefore, Los Angeles current solution are on track. Therefore, Los Angeles current solutions are better in alleviating the homelessness by solving the problem at the root cause.


Bharel, M., Lin, W. C., Zhang, J., O’Connell, E., Taube, R., & Clark, R. E. (2013). Health care     utilization patterns of homeless individuals in Boston: preparing for Medicaid expansion          under the Affordable Care Act. American journal of public health, 103(S2), S311-S317.