The man laid on his side, where one could see his hollow, sunken eyes, and matted, greyish-black hair that failed to completely cover his scalp. His beard was shaggy and uneven, speckled with sporadic, discolored patches. His eyes had cast out creases so far as to rival a murder of crows, as the bags under his eyes looked as though they were slowly trying to encapsulate his face.
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His clothes were dirty, with chaotic tears throughout it. In the congested city, as the skyscrapers grasped at the very clouds above them, and cars raced by, here laid a man, destitute and alone. Dozens, maybe hundreds of people have walked past him today. A few paused by him and whispered platitudes of strength and kindness to him, while they gave him some spare change or maybe some food. These infinitesimal moments may be the most amount of positive human contact that he received today, but they don’t compare to the unremitting apathy that he regularly receives from most of society.
According to a 2017 assessment conducted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that man is only one of over 550,000 homeless persons who dot the various cities and towns of America (US Dept. of HUD page 1). Generally speaking, the homeless population can be categorized into 3 separate groups: Transitional, Episodic and Chronic. Transitional typically refers to persons who suffered from an unexpected emergency that may have forced them into homelessness. Episodic refers to individuals who are in and out of homelessness. More often than not, these individuals tend to have behavioral problems that need to be addressed. Finally, chronically homelessness refers to an individual with a disability who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years (US Dept. of HUD page 2).
While many people may end up homeless due to drugs or familial problems, there are quite a few who may have found themselves homeless through no fault of their own. They may have found themselves in this lamentable situation as a result of mental illness, lack of sufficient permanent housing and/or affordable housing, or even a lack of shelters with minimal barriers to entry. In fact, according to Adam Rideau’s research, many homeless people will cite just how sudden their fall into homelessness came. This information can lead to one wanting to understand the cause of homelessness, as well as the ways to reduce its occurrence, while simultaneously ensuring its reduction for future generations.
All the research states that there is no singular cause for homelessness, but instead a wide variety of causes and traps that can ensnare even the most prudent of civilians and cast them down into the abyss of homelessness.
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