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Homelessness is the condition of people without a regular dwelling.
- Exact numbers are always hard to come by but 553,742 people were homeless on a single night across the US in 2017, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said, the first rise in seven years. (The figure, however, was still 13% lower than in 2010.)
Declines in 30 states were overshadowed by big surges elsewhere, with California, Oregon and Washington among the worst. Los Angeles, where the situation has been described as unprecedented, had more than 50,000 people without homes, behind only New York City, which had some 75,000.
- Hugo Bachega, "Homeless in US: A deepening crisis on the streets of America", BBC News, (8 October 2018).
- But getting back to low-cost housing, I think I might have solved this problem. I know just the place to build housing for the homeless: golf courses. It’s perfect. Plenty of good land in nice neighborhoods; land that is currently being squandered on a mindless activity engaged in by white, well-to-do business criminals who use the game to get together so they can make deals to carve this country up a little finer among themselves. [...] It’s time for real people to reclaim the golf courses from the wealthy and turn them over to the homeless. Golf is an arrogant, elitist game that takes up entirely too much space in this country.
- George Carlin, "Golf Courses for the Homeless," Jammin' in New York (1992).
- There are already in existence sufficient buildings for dwellings in the big towns to remedy any real 'housing shortage,' given rational utilization of them. This can naturally only take place by the expropriation of the present owners and by quartering in their houses the homeless or those workers who are excessively overcrowded in their old houses.
- Friedrich Engels, The Housing Question (1872)
- The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air — it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world, and others no right.
- Your leaders are turncoats
who keep company with crooks.
They sell themselves to the highest bidder
and grab anything not nailed down.
They never stand up for the homeless,
never stick up for the defenseless.
- We have no home—we have no friends,
They said our home no more was ours ;
Our cottage where the ash tree bends,
The garden we had filled with flowers.
. . . .
Alas, it is a weary thing
To sing our ballads o’er and o’er ;
The songs we used at home to sing—
Alas, we have a home no more !
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1835 (1834), 'The Orphan Ballad Singers'
- Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
- Abraham Lincoln, reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association (March 21, 1864), Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 7, p. 259–60.
- Half of all people experiencing homelessness are in one of five states - California (129,972 people), New York (91,897), Florida (31,030), Texas (25,310) and Washington (22,304). Unsurprisingly, the problem is far more visible in urban areas and over half of all homeless people live in one of the country's 50 largest cities. In fact, nearly a quarter of all people sleeping rough did so in either New York or Los Angeles. The Big Apple has one of the lowest levels of unsheltered homeless at 5% while in Los Angeles, 75% of people were found in unsheltered locations.
- Niall McCarthy, “The U.S. Cities With The Most Homeless People In 2018 [Infographic”, (Dec 20, 2018).
- The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty currently estimates that each year at least 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans sleep in shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for human habitation. At least an additional 7.4 million have lost their own homes and are doubled-up with others due to economic necessity.
- According to the most recent annual survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, major cities across the country report that top causes of homelessness among families were: (1) lack of affordable housing, (2) unemployment, (3) poverty, and (4) low wages, in that order. The same report found that the top four causes of homelessness among unaccompanied individuals were (1) lack of affordable housing, (2) unemployment, (3) poverty, (4) mental illness and the lack of needed services, and (5) substance abuse and the lack of needed services.
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, "Homeless Stats Fact Sheet", (2018).
- After declining briefly after the Civil War, homelessness first became a national issue in the 1870s. Facilitated by the construction of the national railroad system, urbanization, industrialization, and mobility led to the emergence of tramps “riding the rails” in search of jobs. Jacob Riis, the Danish-born social reformer and muckraker whose later photojournalism depicted the deplorable lives of those in slums and tenements, arrived in America in 1870 at the age of 21 and described his subsequent 3 years as a member of “the great army of tramps” seeking work across the country. This “army” of overwhelmingly young, able-bodied, white men created a culture that blended the search for work with a love of the open road and a disdain for the constraints of workers in industrialized America (DePastino, 2003). Willing to embrace hard work, they constituted a counterculture with rules and habits that often engendered the wrath of mainstream society. Francis Wayland, the dean of Yale Law School, wrote in 1877, “As we utter the word tramp there arises straightway before us the spectacle of a lazy, shiftless, sauntering or swaggering, ill-conditioned, irreclaimable, incorrigible, cowardly, utterly depraved savage” (Wayland, 1877, p. 10).
- The early 1980s marked the emergence of what now may be considered the modern era of homelessness. Major forces that changed the complexion of homelessness in the modern era include gentrification of the inner city, deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, high unemployment rate, the emergence of HIV/AIDS, an inadequate supply of affordable housing options, and deep budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and social service agencies in response to what was then the country's worst recession since the Great Depression (Jones, 2015). In some cities, property values increased dramatically in the areas near downtown, and Skid Row areas disappeared as the SROs and rooming houses that were home to thousands of transients were razed or converted into apartments and condominiums. Since the 1980s, rents in metro areas across the country have been increasing while wages have stagnated (Katz, 2006). Recent research indicates that families experiencing homelessness are more likely to continue to face poverty and homelessness in the future (Desmond, 2016).
- ... in fact about two-thirds of homeless people in the U.S. live in some kind of shelter or temporary housing, staying with friends or family or in a motel. But the number of street sleepers varies from city to city. In New York, which is required by law to provide shelter for all residents, about 3,000 people sleep on the streets. In Los Angeles, three-quarters of the homeless — some 40,000 people — don't have shelter, and sleep outside or in their vehicles. Many communities make it a crime to live outside. More than 80 cities have passed laws making it illegal to sleep in vehicles, and more than 60 have banned camping in public.
- While some people become homeless because of mental illness and drug addiction, more than 75 percent simply can't afford a place to live. There are now only 12 counties in the U.S. where a worker earning the state minimum wage or federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would be able to afford a one-bedroom rental home on their own, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
- Many experts believe the best solution is to simply put the homeless into low-cost or free apartments, without preconditions. Utah, which has a "Housing First" strategy, has one of the nation's lowest rates of chronic homelessness. Just 6 percent of the state's homeless are considered chronic — people who have been living on the streets for more than a year — compared with 24 percent nationwide. Evidence suggests that programs like Utah's are far more cost-effective than putting homeless people in transitional housing. One Colorado study found that the average homeless person costs taxpayers $43,000 a year in shelters, emergency-room visits, and other expenses, while providing permanent housing for the same person would cost $17,000 a year.
- While many people associate the homeless with begging, about 25 percent of the homeless population has a job, according to the Washington, D.C.–based Urban Institute.
- The Week Staff, “America's homelessness crisis”, The Week, (March 11, 2018).
- Encyclopedic article on Homelessness at Wikipedia