Where the Ragged People Go

face of homeless

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know

Lie la lie …

Life on the street is a little different when your address is the street and does not apply to the postmaster, living from day-to-day on either what is collected from donations of others, or from collecting recyclables from the trash cans around the corner market. The impact of the homeless person on many people depends just on how they see the situation. We either choose not to pay attention and dismiss them, pity them, or host many different feelings and reactions to this growing population of the downtrodden. Often the surrounding environment does more to corrupt them from enabling them to pull themselves out of destitution.

Neighborhoods containing grocery stores, shelters, mental institutions, clinics, alleys, dumpsters, recycling centers, open parks, beaches, vacant lots, and outpatient centers will be frequented by such members of this population.

As a result of methodological and financial constraints, most studies are limited to counting people who are in shelters or on the streets. While this approach may yield useful information about the number of people who use services such as shelters and soup kitchens, or who are easy to find on the street, it can result in underestimates of homelessness. Many people who lack a stable, permanent residence have few shelter options because shelters are filled to capacity or are unavailable. A recent study conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 12 of the 23 cities surveyed had to turn people in need of shelter away due to a lack of capacity. Ten of the cities found an increase in households with children seeking access to shelters and transitional housing while six cities cited increases in the numbers of people seeking these resources (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007).

On an average night in the 23 cities surveyed, 94 percent of people living on the streets were single adults, 4 percent were part of families and 2 percent were unaccompanied minors. Seventy percent of those in emergency shelters were single adults, 29 percent were part of families and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors. Of those in transitional housing, 43 percent were single adults, 56 percent were part of families, and 1 percent were unaccompanied minors. Those who occupied permanent supportive housing were 60 percent single adults, 39.5 percent were part of families, and .5 percent were unaccompanied minors (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).

Homeless in Rome
Homeless in Rome

The average length of stay in emergency shelter was 69 days for single men, 51 days for single women, and 70 days for families. For those staying in transitional housing, the average stay for single men was 175 days, 196 days for single women, and 223 days for families. Permanent supportive housing had the longest average stay, with 556 days for single men, 571 days for single women, and 604 days for women (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). The homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-American, 39 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian, although it varies widely depending on the part of the country. An average of 26 percent of homeless people are considered mentally ill, while 13 percent of homeless individuals were physically disabled (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). Nineteen percent of single homeless people are victims of domestic violence while 13 percent are veterans and 2 percent are HIV positive. Nineteen percent of homeless people are employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).

In addition, a study of homelessness in 50 cities found that in almost every city, the city’s official estimated number of homeless people greatly exceeded the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2004). Moreover, there are few or no shelters in rural areas of the United States, despite significant levels of homelessness (Brown, 2002). The Council for Affordable and Rural Housing estimates that about nine percent of the nation’s homeless are in rural areas (The Council for Affordable and Rural Housing). As a result of these and other factors, many people in homeless situations are forced to live with relatives and friends in crowded, temporary arrangements. People in these situations are experiencing homelessness, but are less likely to be counted. For instance, of the children and youth identified as homeless by the Department of Education in FY2000, only 35% lived in shelters; 34% lived doubled-up with family or friends, and 23% lived in motels and other locations. Yet, these children and youth may not immediately be recognized as homeless and are sometimes denied access to shelter or the protections and services of the McKinney-Vento Act (U.S. Department of Education).

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Homeless in Manchester

Many forms of poverty exist in our world; poverty of the soul, various poverty-stricken minds, and the impoverished ridden communities of nations.

Poverty of the intellect, and the flawed logic of our bureaucratic administrators, legislatures, and politicians defies our confidence in governance, and is yet another example demonstrating that politicians cannot truly act to solve any human problems, and contribute greatly to the despotism that propagates market economies based on scarcity. Scarcity based economies have been the basis for our market system since the dawn of civilizations. Fiat currencies and the central banking corruption of governments around the world, is somewhat of a more recent development in the last 4 centuries probably germinating from around 1743 when Mayer Amschel Bauer, born Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Moses Amschel Bauer, a money-lender and the proprietor of a counting house placed over the entrance door a red sign. The Red-Shield known from the house of Rothschild.
A shell game that continues to divide and devour the municipal populations albeit: debt slaves of our current society are now a global phenomenon and only showcase just how the socialist countries fail to improve human life.

One limited measure of the growth in homelessness is the increase in the number of shelter beds over time. A 1991 study examined homelessness “rates” (the number of shelter beds in a city divided by the city’s population) in 182 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. The study found that homelessness rates tripled between 1981 and 1989 for the 182 cities as a group (Burt, 1997).

Skid Row Los Angeles
Skid Row Los Angeles

A 1997 review of research conducted over the past decade (1987-1997) in 11 communities and 4 states found that shelter capacity more than doubled in 9 communities and 3 states during that time period (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997). In two communities and two states, shelter capacity tripled over the decade.

These numbers are useful for measuring the growth in demand for shelter beds (and the resources made available to respond to that growth) over time. They show a dramatic increase in homelessness in the United States over the past two decades. Additionally, in the U.S. Conference of Mayors report from 2008, 19 of the 25 cities reported an increase in homelessness from 2007. More specifically, 16 cities reported an increase in the number of homeless families.

Also, due to the recent foreclosures crisis, homelessness has been on the rise. In the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s 2008 Report, 12 of the 25 cities surveyed reported an increase in homelessness due to foreclosures and another 6 didn’t have enough facts to be sure. Thirteen of these cities had adopted policies to deal with the recent increase in victims of the housing crisis, but 10 cities had not implemented new policies.

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Homeless in Manchester

Hunger is a very powerful motivator, especially when one chooses to survive.

Propagation of the welfare mentality – A “hand out” is a different thing than a “hand up”. The notion for not feeding a man for a day by giving him a fish, but rather teaching a man how to fish to feed him for a lifetime comes to mind. The problems with an expanding government giving out entitlements to its people become complex and rife with ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

When the nation or state contributes to the problem, people tend to get angry. People who are actual members of the state, pay taxes, and follow the laws of our legislatures are often dumbfounded by the lack of enforcement for others who are given Carte Blanche and are even legal citizens of the state. They are angry because the governing body does not give them the same benefits that they freely give to the other portions that comprise our populations, such as for example, illegal immigration. Free education, free medical attention, and even today a competing chance to go to our universities (whereby illegal immigrant students are not paying the out-of-state tuition) is frankly cheating many American citizens for that chance to go to a particular university which is unequivocally immoral and egregious. If the university becomes impacted within a particular major, students have to delay their plans on graduation until those course requirements are finally met as students are rated on GPA on entrance into these programs. Or for those children who have to sit in larger and larger class sizes, have to observe the slow progress of the class instruction due to the English-speaking challenged students that comprises more and more classrooms around the country.

The anger one feel when others steal or rob from our communities creates tension within us that is sometimes overlooked.

I see the welfare state contributing to the problem day after day after day.

photo courtesy of Lee Jeffries
Face of the Homeless

On the downside, I see local authorities scratching their heads with their hands tied due to the lack of finding any resolution to this perennial problem. Most of the time they do not respond to calls taken from dispatch due to the nature of the call itself if it concerns a homeless individual that may indeed be breaking the law. Many who are taken into custody are released shortly afterwards (depending on the charges), due to overcrowded jails, and the fact that homeless offenders cannot be prosecuted successfully since they have little or no funding to pay any fines, most have little or no ambition to improve their condition, and some look forward to spend a night in jail to shower, eat and sleep in from out of the cold. Sadly I see the abuse of alcohol and drugs everyday, I see the theft and pandering everyday on my streets. Homeless people’s are divided into several different types. Some are even gang like in gathering although there are many that do not want to cause any trouble or harm to anyone.

I see day-to-day events that saddens, sickens, angers, and astounds me.

Which states have the most homelessness people?

According to PBS, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington State, and Washington, D.C. have the highest rates of homelessness, according to a study released in 2007 by The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Well, how many of these are children?

Another estimate comes from 1996 data commissioned by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. It says that while most homeless are unaccompanied adults, the number of homeless families is growing:

  • 66% are single adults, and of these, three-quarters are men
  • 11% are parents with children, 84% of whom are single women
  • 23% are children under 18 with a parent, 42% of whom are under 5 years of age

homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-25homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-35homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-37homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-36

What are the greatest causes of homelessness?

Homelessness may be caused by a variety of factors, but the coincidence of increased levels of poverty and decreased numbers of affordable housing often to blame. Other notable causes may include:

  • Mental illness
    Many mentally ill homeless people are unable to get access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services. A 2005 U.S. Conference of Mayors study found that about 22 percent of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
  • Domestic violence
    In 2005, 50 percent of the cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.
  • Lack of healthcare
    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004 nearly a third of persons living in poverty had no health insurance of any kind. The coverage held by many others would not carry them through a catastrophic illness.
  • Substance Abuse
    While recent research questions the disproportionately high rates of alcohol and drug abuse among the homeless population, and no agreed-upon statistics exist, poor people who abuse substances are far more likely to experience homelessness than their sober counterparts.

homeless-map

homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-7homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-42homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-jeffries-40

What have you done? Have you given clothes to the needy, food, money, or a hot meal? Many of us become skeptical and deter from helping because of the scams of people posing as homeless collecting money on the street partitions between busy metropolitan street lights holding out a cardboard sign. Many can be seen holding signs suggesting they are pregnant, have children to feed, or are veterans. Many of course are indeed telling the truth, and unfortunately many are not truthful which places the doubt into many potential benefactor’s minds after bearing witness to those purchasing alcohol in the local store. Those offering to wash your windshield in a parking lot, or those willing to do some type of work on the other hand may just be looking for a little help. When approached by someone looking for a handout, what will you do? Statistically, giving aid will only contribute to their habitual drug or alcohol use, a choice that one day you will have to decide on. Maybe, your contribution will help feed them, or clothe them. Let’s just hope our contributions are given to those truly in need.

Homeless in Manchester
Homeless in Manchester

15 thoughts on “Where the Ragged People Go

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