Have You Ever Thought About These Issues?

by | Mar 17, 2022 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections

Did you ever think about these issues homeless people face?

The following four headlines caught my eye during the past month.

  • Correlation between Growth of Homeless Encampments and Increase of Crime
  • How Inflation Impacts Homelessness
  • Child Tax Credit Expiration Pushed 3.7 Million Children into Poverty
  • Dangers When Homeless People Miss Out on Important Weather Alerts

Especially if you have never thought of these dimensions of homelessness, here is some food for thought about each of these issues.

Is there any data on the correlations of homeless encampments and crime

  •  “What America Believes About Homelessness” shows that people perceive the homeless community as dangerous, criminal, and addicted to illegal substances in concentrated areas with high unsheltered populations.
  • This negative view leads them to support harsh, punitive responses to tent cities such as encampment clearings and arrests.
  • While it’s important to note that most of these regions were laden with crime from the onset, crimes most certainly do take place in homeless encampments.
  • However, the story that isn’t told is that the homeless people living there are more likely to be the victims of those crimes than they are to be the aggressors.

How inflation affects people who are homeless

  • Inflation can also increase homelessness by putting upward pressure on rents as landlords face higher maintenance and carrying costs for their properties. According to research by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), the average rent in the 100 largest metro areas across the U.S. rose by an average of 11 percent as of September 2021.
  • It is expected to get worse. 1.4 million renter households reported being “very likely” to be evicted within the next two months.

3.7 million innocent children pushed into poverty

  • According to the latest unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 466,000 women left the nationwide workforce between December and January. This indicates that many women are still choosing not to work to help save money on certain expenses, and child care seems to be the primary cost many households are avoiding.
  • The St. Louis Fed has found that child care costs now make up an estimated 14 percent of median household income or about $9,000 per year. Families risk paying a double price, negatively impacting future earnings. Stay-at-home parents may find it challenging to build the job skills necessary to re-enter the workforce, hindering future job prospects.

Why homeless people are caught by unexpected severe weather conditions

  • When major media outlets release these advisory warnings related to extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme weather, or public health, they do not mention unhoused people in their proclamations of vulnerability. Warnings often urge children, ill people, and the elderly to stay indoors. 
  • However, our neighbors without walls are rarely, if ever, addressed directly when words of warning manage to reach their ears. This means that even when they get the message, it’s already been scrambled and appears to not apply to them.

Each of the above stories contains concrete actions each of us can take.