Homelessness Victim of Income Inequity and Institutional Classism: Homelessness is an urgent international issue that confronts both rich and poor nations and is integrally tied to poverty as wars, famine, natural disasters, and vast degrees of inequality have led to recurring circles of impoverishment. Homelessness represents the worst consequences of poverty and ensuing economic and social deprivation, and the global financial crisis of 2008 onward has exacerbated its impacts. Currently, 1 billion people lack adequate shelter and, of that number, 100 million are homeless. The damaging impacts of homelessness are far‐reaching, contributing to acute health problems, impaired child development, family and community instability, restricted agency and disempowerment, and eroded human capabilities. Mental illness increases the likelihood of homelessness for single adults, while gender violence represents a critical factor that precipitates homelessness among women and children. Global solutions include the development of sustainable human settlements, social protections, broad social housing provisions, and affirmation of fundamental human rights.
The term “homelessness” refers to sleeping in shelters or public spaces, that is, to “literal” homelessness. It indicates an experience of extreme adversity that is qualitatively different from the normative residential experience of our society. In order to be studied as a distinct entity, homelessness needs to be clearly differentiated from other forms of poverty. For the purposes of this paper, poverty refers to an income below the federally defined poverty level.
Psychiatric and Psychological Factors: The findings consistently indicate that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse are likely to risk factors for homelessness. They suggest that the lifetime prevalence of each of these disorders is more than twice as high in the homeless as in the general population.
Physical Health Factors: A large and growing number of studies have reported on aspects of physical health in homeless populations. The results of these studies leave no doubt that homelessness has adverse effects on physical health. Homeless people are often found to be in poor physical health and sometimes in pressing need of medical attention.
It must be acknowledged, however, that all efforts made so far by the researchers and theorists have not provided the type of data that would be required to specify for these risk factors the magnitude of their effect, the interrelations among them, and the causal pathways by which they lead to homelessness. In addition, a wider range of potential risk factors needs to be scrutinized, for instance, social support and life events. So that new and effective methodologies can be implemented to address such problems (Susser, Moore and Link, 1993).
As indicated by the results of a comparative survey in five nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An abnormal state of citizen dissatisfaction with the social injustice especially healthcare systems in every one of the five countries were recorded. Citizens with incomes below the national median were more likely than were those with higher incomes to be dissatisfied. In contrast, moderately couple of citizens detailed problems getting required health care. Low-income U.S. citizens revealed more problems getting health care than did their counterparts in the other four countries (Blendon, Schoen, DesRoches, Osborn, Scoles and Zapert, 2002). In a recent study by Baggett, O’connell, Singer and Rigotti (2010), highlighted a national sample of homeless adults which reported substantial unmet needs for multiple types of health care in their study. It has been pointed out that In addition to the expansion of health insurance that may improve health care access for homeless adults, addressing the unique challenges inherent to homelessness will also be required for long-term remedial approach to the problem. According to Schanzer, Dominguez, Shrout and Caton, (2007) newly homeless people battle under the joined weights of residential instability, significant levels of physical disease and mental illness, yet just a couple of experiences a few improvements in their health status and access to care amid their chance in the homeless shelter system.
According to Kushel, Vittinghoff and Haas, (2001), homeless persons face numerous barriers to receiving health care and have high rates of illness and disability. Factors associated with health care utilization by homeless persons have not been explored from a national perspective so far. In a nationally representative survey conducted in the USA, homeless persons reported high levels of barriers to needed care and used acute hospital-based care at high rates. Insurance was associated with a greater use of ambulatory care and fewer reported barriers. It has been suggested that the provision of insurance may improve the substantial morbidity experienced by homeless persons and decrease their reliance on acute hospital-based care. In a study conducted by Gelberg, Linn, Usatine and Smith, (1990) it has been stated that homeless persons often turn to health centers (when seeking medical care) that were designed to treat the poor who have homes. To provide for the effective medical care it is very necessary that, personnel (staff) in such facilities must be aware and capable to fulfill health care needs of the homeless people.
In a study conducted by Aber, Bennett, Conley and Li, (1997) increasing attention has been paid to issues of socioeconomic inequality early in the life-course. It is been stated that poverty or homelessness occurring early in childhood (or prenatally) may cause developmental damage that affects its victims for years to come. Albeit most scholars trust that there is a negative influence of poverty on children’s health status and cognitive development until now there is no clear consensus on how poverty should be operationalized. It is very necessary to operationalize it clearly so that significant accomplishments can be made by practitioners and researchers.
A critical review of recent research on the role of housing in children’s development, including physical health; social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes; and schooling, achievement, and economic attainment was been made in a recent article. It focuses on six features of housing that are central to housing policy, that are: physical housing quality, crowding, residential mobility, homeownership, subsidized housing and unaffordability. The strongest evidence is provided for the deleterious associations between environmental toxins/hazards and crowding with children’s health, and for residential mobility with children’s short-term academic, social and emotional problems. It has been recorded that homelessness or poverty has shown very severe impacts on development and education of a child. That issues must be addressed on the priority basis because it can hugely reshape or affect the future of United States of America (Leventhal and Newman, 2010).
In every one of the real areas surveyed (health, development, and education) studies reveal that homeless children are not just at risk; most suffer specific physical, psychological, and emotional damage because of the conditions that usually accompany episodes of homelessness for families and children (Molnar, Rath and Klein, 1990). A meaningful effort has been made consisting of community-based research on the effects of homelessness on children. Homeless children confront genuine dangers to their ability to succeed and their future well-being. Of specific concern are health problems, hunger, poor nutrition, developmental delays, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and educational underachievement. Factors that may intercede the observed results include inadequate shelter conditions, instability in residences and shelters, inadequate services, and barriers to accessing services that are available. Public policy initiatives are needed to meet the needs of homeless children (Rafferty and Shinn, 1991).
Aber, J. L., Bennett, N. G., Conley, D. C., & Li, J. (1997). The effects of poverty on child health and development. Annual review of public health, 18(1), 463-483.
Blendon, R. J., Schoen, C., DesRoches, C. M., Osborn, R., Scoles, K. L., & Zapert, K. (2002). Inequities in health care: a five-country survey. Health Affairs, 21(3), 182-191.
Baggett, T. P., O’connell, J. J., Singer, D. E., & Rigotti, N. A. (2010). The unmet health care needs of homeless adults: a national study. American journal of public health, 100(7), 1326-1333.
Gelberg, L., Linn, L. S., Usatine, R. P., & Smith, M. H. (1990). Health, homelessness, and poverty: a study of clinic users. Archives of Internal Medicine, 150(11), 2325-2330.
Kushel, M. B., Vittinghoff, E., & Haas, J. S. (2001). Factors associated with the health care utilization of homeless persons. Jama, 285(2), 200-206.
Leventhal, T., & Newman, S. (2010). Housing and child development. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(9), 1165-1174.
Molnar, J. M., Rath, W. R., & Klein, T. P. (1990). Constantly compromised: The impact of homelessness on children. Journal of Social Issues, 46(4), 109-124.
Rafferty, Y., & Shinn, M. (1991). The impact of homelessness on children. American Psychologist, 46(11), 1170.
Schanzer, B., Dominguez, B., Shrout, P. E., & Caton, C. L. (2007). Homelessness, health status, and health care use. American Journal of Public Health, 97(3), 464-469.
Susser, E., Moore, R., & Link, B. (1993). Risk factors for homelessness. Epidemiologic reviews, 15(2), 546-556.
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