Social Welfare Policy
There are many social welfare issues that exist in our society today. Most of these issues affect the people around us on a daily basis, and sometimes our communities come together trying and tack these problems to the best of their knowledge. A few weeks ago I attended a meeting that sought to discuss the issue of homeless children in the streets of New York. The city of New York has been struggling with rising number of homeless people in the last one decade, but the recent rates have rose to alarming levels. The meeting had been called by the Coalition of Homeless, a group of individuals who sought to establish what policies city of New York was seeking to establish to implement towards addressing the ever increasing number of street children. There were policy makers, New York government officials, social workers, business owners, church leaders and even some homeless people who were in attendance. There are many homeless children who live in the streets of New York. Homeless children are unable to procure and maintain a secure and adequate housing, and live in the street, in an abandoned home and under bridges. They also don’t get basic need basic such as clothing, housing and food. They live in poverty and their living standards are low. Homeless children depend on stealing, begging, and garbage to get some basic need such as clothes and food. In the US there are estimated 1.5 million children who are homeless and live in the streets. Homelessness shows the deprivation basic human needs (Shinn & Greer, 2015).
There are many factors that contribute to homelessness in children and most of them depend on the life experience of the children. For instance lack of affordable housing is a factor that contributes to the homeless children. In the US the number of affordable houses has declined over the past few years as a result of private housing segmentation in the market and this is no exception in the city of New York (Goodman, Messeri & O’ Flaherty, 2016). As a matter of fact, New York’s street population is just a small portion of the many homeless people who live in the city. In this meeting, it was established that the city’s shelter population is as high as 10 times the number of other major U.S cities (Coalition for the Homeless, 2016). This is disheartening more so because New York is one of the several cities that are required by law to provide housing for the people without shelter. However, even with the existence of the housing policy that dictates that the city should find means of housing the homeless, the population of the homeless individual has been increasing rapidly in the last two decades overshadowing this dream. What to do about the rise of homeless children in this city still remains a problem because the city can no longer keep up with the number of the homeless families in provision of shelter.
There Coalition of the Homeless was one of the groups present in the meeting and they sought to establish the graveness of the homelessness situation in New York. This group has been providing information on the homeless population in New York. In this meeting this group reported that levels of homelessness in New York had reaching the highest levels since 1930s (Coalition of the Homeless, 2016). The Coalition of the Homeless also said that there were about 60, 410 homeless people in New York. This included 23, 783 homeless children from 14, 699 families that sleep in the New York City municipal shelter system every night. This group also said that in 2015, there were about 109,000 different men, women as well as children who slept in the New York City municipal shelter system. More than 42, 000 of these people were children from different homeless families.
According to Goodman, Messeri & O’Flaherty (2016) lack of affordable housing is documented as the primary cause of homelessness in the city of New York. Other factors that have caused increased levels of homelessness in this city include job loss, evictions, domestic violence, hazardous housing conditions as well as severely overcrowded housing. According to Coalition of the Homeless (2016) there is no accurate measurement of how many children as well as adults who live in unsheltered populations especially bearing in mind that recent surveys in this matter seem to underestimate the number of homeless New Yorkers. Church leaders who were present in the meeting also argued that high levels of homeless in New York were to blame for the rise of immorality levels in the city today. According to a research that was conducted in the US, 60 percent of children who are homeless and between the ages of ten to seventeen years use alcoholic drinks, use hallucinating drugs such as meth and engage in deviant behaviors such as prostitution.
They are also involved in crime such as robbery and sex assaults. According to Shinn & Greer (2015) some of these children start engaging in these behaviors after running away from home, or after their parent forces them to leave their homes for being deviant only to end up in the streets a couple of months later. Notably, in the US most cases of children who live in the street run away from homes to continue taking drugs and engaging in prostitution, as a source of income. The majority of them are also not willing to go to the authorities and organizations that run programs that are aimed at giving shelter to homeless people. Thirdly, home violence contributes to the homelessness in children (Goodman, Messeri & O’Flaherty, 2016). Children who are exposed to domestic violence in their places have a possibility of becoming homeless. In the US this is one of the contributors of homelessness in children and youths, where parents are always in a fight due to drunkenness or difference in priorities between parents. This incites children to move out of home to the streets in search for a better life and comfort. In the meeting, the Coalition for the Homeless also pointed out that domestic violence also results in family divorce making the father figure in the family absent, hence urged the state to come up with better policies to protect the well being of young children even after their families breakup. According to Goodman, Messeri & O’Flaherty (2016), if the father figure in the family is authoritative and abusive, it may also make children feel insecure and leave their home to join gangs in the streets in search for comfort and security.
By the time this meeting was adjourned, it was clear that the rate of homeless in New York is growing at worrying rates and the city as well as the state government needs to come up with policies that can address homelessness and high levels of homelessness affecting its residents. The city could start by implementing policies that offer homeless children opportunities to develop basic skills and capitalize on their talents. Homeless children do not get the opportunity of getting the basic skills and education to help them acquire employment opportunities in the future. This is an area of concern in New York as well as the whole American society because these children will grow to be adults who will be engaging in crimes such as robbery and theft and in deviant behaviors as a source of income.
Goodman, S., Messeri, P., & O’Flaherty, B. (2016). Homelessness prevention in New York City: On average, it works. Journal of Housing Economics.
Shinn, M., & Greer, A. L. (2015). Getting homelessness prevention services to families who can benefit most. Parity, 28(10), 9.
Coalition for the Homeless (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/basic-facts-about-homelessness-new-york-city/