Homelessness in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (2010), the human aspect of homelessness encompasses many scenarios; these include unemployment, mental or medical illnesses, financial constraints and natural disasters. HUD further points out that child forms a significant part of the ever growing population of the homeless in America. These kids are throwaways and runaways (Ensign, 2004). Homelessness in the United States is fast becoming a real health issue that needs to be addressed. The term homelessness in itself may not adequately reflect the impacts of homelessness on the Americans who do not have shelters or places to call homes. Homelessness has increased adverse effects on the health of individuals; these could be psychological, physical or social impacts. This paper is, therefore, going to discuss the psychosocial, health and environmental impacts of homelessness on the individuals affected.
To begin with, there are some adverse health consequences that homeless people suffer from as a result of their status in society. People without homes have a higher likelihood of having poorer physical health as compared to their counterparts with homes. Studies have revealed that homeless populations in the United States have higher rates of TB, asthma, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and diabetes mellitus. These populations also have higher rates of hospital admissions. The homeless nature of these groups in the US has exposed them to sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS and Gonorrhoeae (Ensign, 2004). These homeless populations habitually expose themselves to risky sexual behavior; they also participate in other high-risk behaviors like injection drugs use.
Secondly, the homeless populations in the United States are also afflicted with psychosocial issues. The major psychological issue affecting the homeless groups is the constantly low socioeconomic status. Homeless people lack the necessities like food, appropriate education, water, and finances for other uses. The homeless populations also indulge in drug and substance abuse. The homeless population is chronic abusers of drugs like meth, cocaine, bhang and heroine. Such exposure to narcotics makes the homeless one of the key participant in the social vices in the major urban areas in the U.S. Reported cases of crime in Detroit, NY and LA have been attributed to the homeless populations (Baggett, Lebrun-Harris, & Rigotti, 2013). The mental illness is another issue that affects the homeless populations in the United States.
Environmental hazards also affect the homeless populations in America. The homeless populations face multiple environmental risks; the adverse weather conditions like storms, hurricanes and rainfall are some of the dangers they face (Baggett, Lebrun-Harris, & Rigotti, 2013). Because they lack proper shelter, they are exposed to the rain, winter snowfalls, and other extreme weather conditions. Their lack of housing also presents the homeless populations to air pollutions. Homeless people living in the urban areas are exposed to air pollution from industries, motor vehicles, and subway trains. This exposure predisposes them to respiratory diseases.
Some interventions help avert the hazards of homelessness; psychiatrists, educators, nurses and therapists advocate for the needs of the homeless by contracting and brokering with community and neighborhood resources. Psychosocial interventions intervene by looking into individual deficit in relationships; many organizations link up the homeless children with foster parents and families (Speirs, Johnson, & Jirojwong, 2013). The organizations further collaborate with the available community agencies to meet the needs of the homeless.
In conclusion, the state of homelessness in the U.S. is worrying. The homeless people in the United States comprise a vast number of children who have run away from homes or have been abandoned by parents. The homeless populations are exposed to health, environmental and psychosocial hazards. Studies have revealed that there are significantly higher rates of TB, DM, and HIV/AIDS among the homeless. Drug abuse, mental illnesses and low socioeconomic statuses are common cases among the homeless. Finally, adverse weather conditions and air pollution are environmental hazards that affect the homeless.
Baggett, T., Lebrun-Harris, L., & Rigotti, N. (2013). Homelessness, cigarette smoking and desire to quit: results from a US national study. Addiction, 108(11), 2009-2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.12292
Ensign, J. (2004). Quality of Health Care: The Views of Homeless Youth. Health Services Research, 39(4p1), 695-708. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00253.x
Speirs, V., Johnson, M., & Jirojwong, S. (2013). A systematic review of interventions for homeless women. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 22(7-8), 1080-1093. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jocn.12056