US homelessness affects international community

A few weeks ago on the streets of Philadelphia, a homeless family was confronted by Child Protective Services (CPS). While the mother and father were asleep on the cold ground under a city bridge, their 3-year-old son left their “make-shift” cardboard home and wandered around Brotherly Park. The young boy and his older sibling were taken into CPS and their parents were left devastated.

This story, like many others, is all too common within the United States in recent years. The issue of homelessness is too common and too frequent throughout the world. Although the international community believes that the U.S. is a very rich country with many opportunities, not many realize that this country faces many of the same problems that other individuals face around the world.

On a single night, in 2014, over 600,000 people were experiencing homelessness within the U.S. according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Found within this number, over one-third are children, one in five are untreated for their severe mental illness, many of them cannot afford rent, domestic violence is the leading cause of homeless women, and tens of thousands are Korean Conflict veterans. Although 600,000 people does not appear to be a high number, homelessness does not only affect these individuals, but all U.S. citizens.

These people live in make-shift homeless shelters, outside on the cold ground, or within a transitional housing programs. Many individuals are currently unemployed or addicted to drugs, but there are also tens of thousands of homeless U.S. veterans. Many veterans are homeless because they do not receive benefits from the U.S. government. Veterans who fought in the Korean Conflict do not receive any benefits because the government does not categorize conflicts as war, so it will not supply benefits. Government assistance is not only limited to veterans, but it also does not provide enough to all low income households, especially children and domestically abused women.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of homeless women. More than 90 percent of homeless women are the victims of sexual or physical abuse within the U.S. In the process of escaping, these women are left with no money, belongings or homes. Many end up in shelters with their children.

While the U.S. government does not provide enough assistance to the homeless within America, many states have made it a crime. A 2014 survey published by the National Law Center on Homeless and Poverty researched the number of cities that criminalize homelessness. Out of 187 cities 24 percent of these cities made it a crime to beg in public; 33 percent made it illegal to stand around or loiter in any place; 43 percent made it illegal to sleep in a car; and 53 percent made it illegal to lay down or sit in particular public places.

Although there are many people within the U.S. affected by homelessness, this issue can be seen internationally. Most countries try to help their homeless citizens by providing necessary means to live. While countries are still trying to help and assist homeless people and give them a livable lifestyle, it’s important to understand how each country tackles the issue. By understanding homelessness, people from all over the world can create new practices to decrease and eliminate this international issue.