Running head: Truth and Differences of Homelessness

Truth and Differences of Homelessness:
A review of the literature

Homelessness is a subject that has many different views, and opinions. It is a subject that gets little attention and funding in order to broaden its truth and its needs to the public eye. Homelessness is a subject that is a convenient place to put unsolved unwanted social and political problems within our communities. Its depth in our society is not completely known and or understood; therefore its solution continues to be a mystery delayed. The stigmatisms are many and the sad but true community laws, rules, and quick fixes are anything but kind in the mind of a compassionate worker. The research of homelessness doesn't even begin to reach into the subject in a fair and or complex way; however I will attempt to bring into the light what different truths, and community solutions have been given on the subject of homelessness.
Review of Literature
Just exactly who is a homeless person is a question that keeps surfacing as I review this material. It is not the typical male bum hanging out at the downtown park as many think. The average homeless person is a single mother, about 30 years in age, with possibly two to three children, who may or may not have been homeless at least once before. In 1999 it was estimated that there were about 400,000 homeless families in shelters. In 2001 it was estimated that on any given night there were about 700,000 people homeless. It is clear from the literature that homelessness affects "families" much more than what most people think.
Next it is evident that the researchers are trying to understand the many reasons why homelessness occurs. Issues of unemployment, under skilled people in an environment that is demanding much more education and skill than ever before. One article contained the following:
The United States has become a "credential society," in which competition for jobs has elevated required qualifications (cited in Thomas Alex Washington 2002). Employers now require that applicants for even menial jobs have high school diplomas. Thus, it is imperative that people who are homeless have proper training so that they can compete in the job market. (Thomas. Alex. Washington 2002).
And with the increasing cost of living and over crowded low-income housing, this alone has made getting the homeless off the streets a major issue. All of the literature also strongly suggests that the homeless has an increasing need for medical, mental health and addiction services as well as the need for training in life skills and parenting.
A solution to the challenges of homelessness and the negative attitude directed towards homelessness is where much of the focus is in my review of the literature. Research shows largely that the misunderstandings of the homeless are a stumbling block to its upward mobility. While many communities offer some sort of shelter or transitional housing programs not all are equipped with what is essential to make lasting progress for a homeless person or family.
When it gets right down to the heart of this subject of homelessness all of these articles sum up that there is not any easy way to solve the challenges of homelessness and especially overnight. Furthermore homelessness is not the only challenge that our communities are dealing with, another is the "attitude" toward homelessness.
Compare and Contrast Literature
This research shares an overall theme of passion to defense against the negative attitude and stigmatisms towards the homeless. I can only assume that other social workers have researched this topic and tried to leave this theme so we who are entering this field will hold a positive view as well as become educated on the truth about the people we refer to as the homelessness. One author led his research with this quote:
The homeless are the quintessential victims in America society. Surveys show their victimization and neglect continues despite nearly two decades of militant advocacy on their behalf. Homelessness is a convenient term for those suffering from a range of physical and mental problems (Robert Kelly 2001).
Another article contained these words in its introduction: The homeless represent a group of people who are frequently dismissed and stigmatized as troublesome and unwanted patients, yet they are a significant group within society, which is increasing in size (H. E. Lester and H. M. Pattison 2000).
Two more articles had the same words throughout "deserving verses undeserving." What I took notice to the most throughout these articles was an overall theme from the authors attempting to reduce these stigmatisms and miss judgments of the homeless. It is clear in this literature that this "negative attitude" first must be reduced in order to better serve these people.
When it came to offering solutions to the challenges of homelessness there were two authors who had found quiet a contrast of approaches. Here are their findings:
In Sacramento, California, homelessness people are offered one way bus tickets out of town; the city capital of California has also enacted "bum- proof" laws which make it illegal to sit in certain public places with belongings that take up more than 3 cubic feet; in New York, if homeless parents refuse to work for shelter, the city administration wants to put their children in foster care. If
homelessness people refuse to go to shelter, the city is seeking the authority to have them arrested (cited in Robert J. Kelly 2001).
Across the states in Memphis Tennessee, a 12-month, 38 unit transitional housing program called Estival Place was established in 1991. Their goal was to empower their clients using the systems approach as an intervention guide. Parts of the facilities requirements are that all families meet certain screening guidelines. All families are required to work or attend school. The facility offers, life skills and parenting classes, mental health counseling, medical check-ups, financial training, job development, day care, after school programs and case management services. This facility also reports that as part of their services they work closely with outside community agencies thus offering a well-rounded program. This author reports that the program is a great success with their homeless clients; here is what one client stated:
The shelters I stayed at only offered me a place to sleep and nothing else. They did not have people there to talk with me about how to do this or that, you know, the important things I needed to know so that I could better myself and find a job. But Estival Place helped me by having the programs, the counseling sessions and just by being there when I needed just a boost not a hand out (quoted in T. A. Washington 2002).
Certainly this is an extreme example of different approaches in two opposite sides of the United States; however it serves as an example of what not to do as well as what to do. Both authors offering an important and educational source for social workers as well as anyone who is looking to have a better understanding of the subject of homelessness.
Implications for Social Work
This research suggests that there are needs to clearly understand the homeless ness problem within each of our communities' nation wide. It emphasizes reason to look at attitude, judgments and the stigmatisms that are associated with homelessness. It validates the need for social workers to continue a constant search for funding and resources to enable further study of the homeless.
Additionally it is demonstrated in one facility that using the systems approach as a means to guide positive effects of a program have proven success in one community. This success is certain to serve as a model for further communities and encourage social workers to strive to be fluent in its use. Furthermore while it seems harsh or cruel to hear such quotes as this research has pointed out social workers need to be aware that these negative attitudes are alive and living in our community's. This knowledge alone will serve as a beautiful motivation for social workers to work collectively as "agents of change" for the people we call homeless.

Hocking, J. (2000). Changing attitudes toward the homeless: The effects of Prosocial
Communication with the homeless (Electronic version). Journal of Social
Distress and the Homeless, 9, (2).
Levy, J. (2000). Homeless outreach: On the road to pretreatment alternatives (Electronic
version). Families in Society, 81, (4).
Lester, H. E. & Pattison, H. M. (2000). Development and Validation of the Attitudes
Towards the Homelessness Questionnaire: (Electronic version). Medical Education, 34, 266-268.
Nunz, Ralph. & Fox, Cybelle. (1999). A snapshot of family homelessness across
America: (Electronic version). Political Science Quarterly, 114, (2) 289-308.
Robert, J. Kelly. (2001). Status Reports on the Homelessness: (Electronic version).
Journal of Social Distress and he Homelessness, 1, (3).
Washington, Thomas, Alex. (2002). The homelessness need more than a pillar: An
evaluation of a transitional housing program: (Electronic version). Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 83, 920.

Homelessness 9.5 of 10 on the basis of 749 Review.