Essay on Homelessness in Arizona

Published: 2021-06-23
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George Washington University
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A homeless person is one who lacks housing, and it also includes those that remain in supervised public or private dwelling places. It also includes those that dwell in shelters and those on the streets. The situation can be temporal including individuals or families. In Arizona, most people reside in the streets with a high number of the household including single mothers who are unable to meet housing costs of the family. The primary causes of homelessness comprise of some factors within the control of the victims and others outside their control. For instance, most homeless people are there because of eviction, loss of a job, illness or high medical bills. Others are homeless because of poor financial decisions or things like substance abuse. Nonetheless, the negative implications of homelessness are experienced by all like instability, poor hygiene and sanitation, and lack of privacy.

Homelessness cannot be used to define an individual as it is possible to have a home today and tomorrow to be homeless. Because of the liquidity of that line, the causes of homelessness in Arizona cut across personal factors, structural and systematic bringing a result of homelessness. Societal and economic issues are primary factors in the structures that can render a person homeless. When a person earnings per month are not enough to sustain their housing facilities, they may stay in the streets of temporarily staying with friends. Moreover, the discrimination of the Blacks in Arizona makes them vulnerable to homelessness as they may not get equal opportunities to acquire wealth (Mama, et al. pp.1). When the disposable income is too little, people will choose food over the shelter to survive. In any case, they can at times find a place to sleep at a relative or family friend before stabilizing. People living below the minimum wage are likely to be homeless because they may be unable to cope with the changing economic times that are raising the standards of living. Further, in the case of death or chronic illness of the sole breadwinner of a family, the rest of the family members can be evicted by the landowners resulting in dependence on the state for survival or going to the streets.

The government policies and structures have also contributed to the high level of homelessness. There at times lacks good transitions from the child welfare when the child attains adult age to independent living. When the government support is withdrawn and they are supposed to meet their needs, it can be a challenging situation for the young adults without family. Thus they get to the streets. Additionally, health care facilities discharge people sometimes without considering where they will go after leaving the facility. The government has also failed to provide affordable housing facilities that can attract low-income earners among the population. The available houses mostly build by the investors attract middle-class and high-class earners in Arizona leaving the low earners without an option as highlighted by Pfeiffer and Lucio, (pp.362). However, if houses were availed by the government because it is not there for business as the homeowners, then the problem can be addressed.

Moreover, in Arizona people are homeless because of family issues. When those that are supposed to care and provide, fail in their responsibilities, staying in the public areas becomes inevitable. Domestic violence tops the list and women are the most vulnerable group. There have been cases of husbands sending away their wives who most times are not working and are unable to fend for themselves. The outcome is a woman living in the streets or shelters. Further, sometimes children run away from abusive homes where they find they risk their lives to find solace and peace in a community of suffering people living in the streets. Moreover, when children lose their parents and have no support from relatives, they may end in the streets. The situation is aggravated when the family was single parented, and relatives are unwilling to take up the burden. Alternatively, some relative offer support systems but the environment may be unconducive for the surviving kin thus they go to the streets. Finally, the vicious cycle of the family living in the streets getting children who also mature and have kids as teens in the streets also increase the social problem of homelessness.

Personal reasons also can make an individual homeless, for instance, people who are addicted to alcohol and other illegal drugs are likely to end up in the streets. Working individuals who are unable to control their drinking may lose their jobs because of reduced productivity and inability to concentrate. When this occurs, the income they have is used to sustain their craving such that little money is left to meet basic needs like housing. Further, the family may desert such a person living them on their own. Eviction, in the long run, may be inevitable, and homelessness ensues. Other categories of people have poor financial plans such that when they lose their jobs because they had no saving, they are forced to seek support from friends temporarily or stay in the streets.

Homelessness has severe impacts on victims some of which last for a lifetime. Teenagers in the streets are exposed to crime-related activities, and there is a high possibility that they will abuse drugs. Street family at times feel bitter and can adopt a dont care attitude as they may regard the government to have neglected them. As such they may lose value for life and engage in criminal activities especially when children attain adulthood as highlighted by (Cronley, et al. pp.193). At times these tendencies are born out of a need to survive in the harsh environment. They abuse drugs to help them cope with the stressful life situations and are deluded (Tyler and Melander. pp.502). Therefore, the victims are unable to make rational decisions or seek out for opportunities that they can get back on their feet economically. Additionally, inadequate amount of food available for the street families may lead them to robbery in seeking ways of survival. Sometimes, these gang members are arrested of even killed. Some women and girls adopt prostitution so as to fend for their families and their survival (Tyler and Melander. pp.502). Such a lifestyle places their health at risk and chances are they will contract sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. However, the problem would have been solved had the children grown in the right environment.

The health of homeless people is at risk as they lack minimum sanitation services. Clean water may not always be available, and places to dispose of waste products may be a problem such that the people have to live in unhygienic conditions as noted by Harlan, (pp. 197). The physical environment is unsuitable for the healthy survival of human beings. Sleeping out in the cold exposes the victims to cardio-respiratory infections, cold injury, sleep deprivation and mental diseases. Depression can ensure because of the complexity of staying in the streets, sleeping rough and sometimes going without food. When the homeless people become public ridicule, and other people despise them, mental illnesses can worsen leading even to suicidal cases. Children born to street mothers are likely to die within the first few days because of inadequate medical care and nutritionally deficient mother. Further, such parents may fail to take precautions like attending the prenatal clinic and ensure safe delivery that reduces transmission of diseases to the newborn. Rape cases of women living in the streets in Arizona have been familiar coupled with other forms of abuse at times infection with HIV/AIDS as pinpointed by Caton, (pp. 856-864). Perpetrators of abuse tend to take advantage of the vulnerable group because they lack the power to defend themselves. Homeless people lack privacy in their homes and routinized way of behaving, as such; there is the development of abnormal behavioral tendencies.

Homelessness among victims in Arizona at times is temporal involving moving from staying with relatives to overcrowded apartments, to shelters but it has had a lasting impact on children especially. It is hard for children to cope with the instability of moving from place to place, changing schools and creating new friends. At the developmental stage of children, stability is essential for holistic development of the emotional, academic and social aspects of their lives. Such children are unable to flourish, interact with people and form deep interpersonal connections. Such children are more likely to repeat grades as the parents seek financial and housing support to take care of the family needs. These problems may limit a child from exploiting their full potential is school and career wise later in life.

In conclusion, the high rate of homelessness in Arizona has been caused by structural, systemic, family and personal reasons. At times a person is homeless because of factors within their control like lack of a job. The impacts of homelessness on the victims are far reaching like permanent mental disorders, addiction of criminal related activities. Women are raped, newborn babies die, and the adolescents turn to unhealthy behavior as they try to cope with the difficulties. Government and non-government agencies have done some things to help the situation. However, there is still a lot that can be done. Creating affordable housing facilities can prevent any increase in homelessness. Further, empowering and building capacity among the homeless is a sustainable way of helping them raise their income levels and reduce the dependency on the government. For example, women can be trained in artistic skills like weaving and make high-value commodities that they can sell. Finally, the government should do more to eliminate poverty.

Works Cited

Caton, Carol LM, et al. "Rates and correlates of HIV and STI infection among homeless women." AIDS and Behavior 17.3 (2013): 856-864.

Cronley, Courtney, et al. "Effects of Homelessness and Child Maltreatment on the Likelihood of Engaging in Property and Violent Crime During Adulthood." Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 25.3 (2015): 192-203.

Harlan, Sharon L., et al. "Neighborhood effects on heat deaths: social and environmental predictors of vulnerability in Maricopa County, Arizona." Environmental Health Perspectives (Online) 121.2 (2013): 197.

Mama, Scherezade K., et al. "Psychosocial mechanisms linking the social environment to mental health in African Americans." PloS one 11.4 (2016): e0154035.

Pfeiffer, Deirdre, and Joanna Lucio. "Section 8 Renters in the Phoenix, Arizona, Foreclosure Crisis: Implications for Poverty Deconcentration." Housing Policy Debate 26.2 (2016): 362-379.

Tyler, Kimberly A., and Lisa A. Melander. "Child abuse, street victimization, and substance use among homeless young adults." Youth & Society 47.4 (2015): 502-519.

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