Essay About Homeless in the United States
Although being homeless is a horrific situation to be in, criminalization of the homeless makes their lives that much worse. This community is one of the most difficult to be a part of, and they are being criminalized for things they can't control. The homeless population is criminalized to keep them out of the public view. They are seen as needy, drug addicts, bums among other terms, all negative. In other words, they are seen as an unavailing part of society, but instead of fixing the problem, we choose to throw them in jails and hide our problems.
Some put it as, "Imagine trying to survive everyday life but everywhere you turn your behavior turns into a crime." Out of the ~550,000 homeless people who live in the US, roughly 200,000 of them reside in the state of California. This preponderance of the homeless community lies mostly in prominent city areas like the Bay Area and Orange County. Although this is true, cities prefer to keep their streets “clean” which leads to the criminalization of the homeless community. Homeless people could have their encampments destroyed and trashed for trespassing on property. Homeless people can even be put in jail for minimal reasons that would only cause a citation such as, illegally having a shopping cart or sleeping/laying in public areas.
People can become homeless in various ways. Some happen suddenly, while others take a while, everyone has their own story. One of the main reasons people become homeless is in the Bay Area is because of the housing cost in the area. Those who don't have a high paying job can't afford to live in an area where a single bedroom can be up to $2,000 per month. Those who don't have top paying jobs can't pay for apartments and living spaces which leave them with no option but to sleep on the street. What can be more difficult is upkeep for jobs. Without a home, the person can't be as sanitary as they can with a house.
They can't clean their clothes because it can be costly. This is dangerous because it can cost them their job which can be even worse for them. Another reason some become homeless is because of things like getting fired. Although a person could have a high paying job and be able to live in the area. If someone was to live in a moderately expensive area but suddenly got fired, unless they have savings to pay rent, they would get kicked out of their homes and be forced onto the street. Lastly, someone could become self-destructive. Although it may not all be consensual. Some people can accidentally get hooked onto a drug which could distract them from work. This would make it so that all their income goes to drug addiction and are unable to pay rent. This could lead to them getting onto the streets and continuing that destructive behavior. This is why we need to help people who live on the streets. For almost all of them, becoming homeless wasn't a choice, and they are still criminalized for something they can't control.
Although being homeless is one of the hardest situations to go through, the criminalization of them makes it worse by a far margin. Those who are homeless are homeless because of challenging conditions such as, divorce, getting fired, drug addictions among other things, and making them criminals in the eyes of the public make their circumstances so much more difficult. The homeless population is also criminalized for minor reasons that would only really need to be a warning. Laws have even been put in place to stop the homeless community. Some examples of these are how its illegal to sleep/lie in public which is enforced in multiple cities around the country. Some even prohibit "lodging out of doors."
Homeless people are criminalized for many reasons, mostly meaningless. They can be charged for many reasons such as sleeping in public, smelling bad in public areas, and in some cases, even prohibiting begging in public areas. All these laws were made to allow the police to arrest and hide this problem that we are all facing, and it costs us millions every year. They are in trouble for attempting to live normal lives and not having a choice but to live on the streets. The homeless community is penalized for only one reason, and it's because they want to hide them. They want to hide the problem instead of solving the problem. Not only does it cost everyone money and time but it makes the homeless population worse. Those who have been charged for minor crimes such as illegally having a shopping cart are still charged as adults. This means it goes on their permanent record which can make it even harder for them to get a job.
The average taxpayer has to pay ~$17,000 per year in taxes that goes to the homelessness problems. This money goes to many services such as food & water, shelter/housing, hospital visits, jail time, etc. Although this does seem like an efficient system, money and time could be saved in various ways. Permanent housing could be one. If everyone who is homeless got home, they would be free to start working to get a job and thus be able to support themselves in the future. Although this seems like the best possible solutions, there are some flaws. Cities need to make sure that there is enough space to house all these people. The city also needs to have enough budget to support that many people for a while.
Another solution is shelters. Shelters take up less space than whole houses and can hold way more people. If cities sections off areas on land to use as shelters and build multiple, it could end homelessness. We could build numerous shelters which could support thousands of people at a time. Lastly, the best solution in my eyes is prevention. If you train people to save money for emergencies or teach them how to prepare, you can avoid becoming homeless altogether. If you show people to have an emergency fund for rent if they get fired or teach them how to budget to be able to pay rent, it will help everyone. If you could prevent people from going on the streets by showing them how to avoid it, homelessness could neutralize and dissipated at an instant.
Overall, the treatment of homeless people in the country has been a disturbing one. They are forced onto the street by prohibitive housing cost and then are criminalized for not having a choice. Not only are they already homeless, but the criminalization of them goes on to their record which can make it harder to get a job. Instead of providing a solution, we are creating another problem which is costing everyone more overall. Even so, the answers to this rampant problem would be to prevent it in the first place and help those who are already there. With this information, we could end homelessness.