Critical thinking on homeless persons
Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. People who are poor are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, child care, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income, that must be dropped. Being poor means being an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.
In 2000, 11.3% of the U.S. population, or 31.1 million people, lived in poverty (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2001). While the number of poor people has decreased a bit in recent years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased. In 2000, 39% of all people living in poverty had incomes of less than half the poverty level. This statistic remains unchanged from the 1999 level. Forty percent of persons living in poverty are children; in fact, the 2000 poverty rate of 16.2% for children is significantly higher than the poverty rate for any other age group.
Eroding Work Opportunities and Housing
Declining wages have put housing out of reach for many workers: in every state, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. In Miami – Dade county a family needs to work 126 hours a week at minimum wage in order to afford a moderately priced two bedroom apartment.
In 1970 there were 300,000 more affordable housing units available, nationally, than there were low-income households who needed to rent them. By 1995, there were 4.4 million fewer available units than low-income households who needed to rent them.
Decline in Public Assistance
The declining value and availability of public assistance is another source of increasing poverty and homelessness. Only a small fraction of welfare recipients' new jobs pay above-poverty wages; most of the new jobs pay far below the poverty line. Welfare caseloads have dropped...