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Homelessness in the United States Beth Awalt This report serves as an introduction to the issue of homelessness in the United States Each section details a little bit about the de nitions of causes of violence against and ways to end homelessness and poverty in the United States These sections each have a mixture of mathematicsstatistics and research Enjoy V The Basics of Homelessness and Poverty V The population in the United States is increasing Total Midyear Population in the United States Year Population 1980 22772646 3 1985 23846628 3 1990 25013189 4 1995 26655709 1 2000 28233863 1 2005 29573413 4 2006 29844421 5 2007 30113994 7 2008 30382464 6 Source US Census Bureau International Data Base wwwcensusgovchwwwialb gt withplots pointplot 0 227726463 5 238466283 10 250131894 15 266557091 20 282338631 25 295734134 26 298444215 27 301139947 28 303824646 labels typeset quotYear 19800quot typesetquotP0pu1ati0n in millions of peoplequot labelalz39rectz39ons horizontal vertical title typeset quotTotal Midyear Population in the United States from 19802008quot Total Midyear Population in the United States from 19802008 300 290 280 270 260 250 Population in millions of people a 240 230 5 10 15 20 25 Year 19800 7gt withstudent s1 slope0 227726463 5 238466283 S21 slope5 238466283 10 250131894 S31 slope10 250131894 15 266557091 s4 Slope15 266557091 20 282338631 35 Slope20 282338631 25 295734134 s6 slope 25 295734134 26 298444215 39 s71 slope 26 298444215 27 301139947 s8 slope 27 301139947 28 303824646 s9 slope 0 227726463 28 303824646 3 2147964000 32 2333122200 s3 3285039400 34 3156308000 s5 2679100600 s6 2710081 s7 2695732 s8 2684699 L 39 2717792250 111 SJs2s3s4s5s6s7s8 gt AverageSlope 8 AverageSlope 2711505775 112 gt Based on this scatterplot we can see that the population is in fact increasing By finding the slope first between consecutive years and then the average of that slope very close to the slope from 2008 to 1980 we can calculate the increase in millions of people per year in the United States about 271 million Becuase the population is increasing each year that also means the number of people in poverty is increasing each year This means that the United States has to accomadate for this steady increase in population by responding with more jobs public assistance and affordable housing for Americans 7 What does it mean to be in poverty and how many people in the United States are in poverty quotNational Coalition for the Homeless believes that people without housing should be counted by the Census for the same reasons that people with housing should be counted in order to have more comprehensive demographic information about communities including more accurate data on poverty However NCH opposes the release of a separate quotcoun quot of people enumerated in homeless situations at selected service sites and identified outdoor locations because such a number would be by its very nature both inaccurate and misleading and therefore lead to uninformed decisionmaking by policymakersquot from www nationalhomeless org quotOne limited measure of the growth in homelessness is the increase in the number of shelter beds over time A 1991 study examined homelessness quotratesquot the number of shelter beds in a city divided by the city39s population in 182 US cities with populations over 100000 The study found that homelessness rates tripled between 1981 and 1989 for the 182 cities as a group Burt 1997 A 1997 review of research conducted over the past decade 19871997 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 decadequot from www nationalhomeless org Those who are homeless however are in poverty so we can analyze factors of people in poverty The table below shows the dollar amount used to determine poverty status sorted by size of family and age of members It is important to notice the changes in amount ne Poverty Thresholds for 2007 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years in dollars Size of Family Unit Weighted Average Thresholds WAT Related children under 18 years 0 8 No Six ne One Tw Fou W ThI Fiv Se Eight AT ee e ven or more One 1 person 5 90 unrelated under 10 10 65 yrs 787 787 65 yrs 9 9 ampolder 944 944 Two 13 people 540 13 13 14 househol 954 884 291 derlt65 years 12 12 14 househol 550 533 237 der 65 years people 530 218 689 705 Four 21 21 21 21 21 people 203 386 736 027 100 Five 25 25 26 25 24 24 people 080 791 166 364 744 366 Six 28 29 29 29 28 27 27 people 323 664 782 168 579 705 187 Seven 32 34 34 33 33 32 31 29 people 233 132 345 610 098 144 031 810 Eight 35 38 38 37 37 36 35 34 33 people 816 174 511 818 210 348 255 116 82 Nine 42 45 46 45 45 44 43 41 41 40 people 739 921 143 529 014 168 004 952 69 085 Source US Census Bureau wwwcensusgov In order to make this information more relatable the next excerpt of table focuses on statistics of poverty in the United States and in Pennsylvania In poverty or quotbelow 100povertyquot means the person 39s income is less than the average poverty threshold PovertV Status bV State Weighted Person Count in 2007 All In Standa Perc Standa Income Pover rd ent rd Levels ty error error United 298699 37 415 125 01 States 000 276 000 000 Pennsyl 12297 1 81000 104 07 vania 000 273 000 Source US Census Bureau Current Population Survey 2008Annual Social and Economic Supplement Looking at this table it can be inferred that out of the almost 300 million people living in the United States 124 126 ofthe people are living in poverty average of 125 with a possible error on either end of 0 1 In Pennsylvania 1273 million people are living in poverty about 104 percent of the state That means one in ten people are living in poverty A little less than the national average yes but still a very startling number 7gt withStatistics Up1 125 Un 875 Pp1 104 Pn 886 7gt U PieChartUp color red sector 0 45 U2 1 PieChartUn color yellow sector 45 360 displayU1 U2 title quotUnited States Populationquot United Stesopulation gt P PieChartPp color green sector 0 37 P2 PieChartPn color blue sector 37 360 display P1 P2 title quotPennsylvania Populationquot Pennsylvania Population gt These pie graphs show how many people in the United States and PA are living in poverty red and green respectively in a proportion of the total population Let s explore what really 7 7 comprises this poverty threshold though V Causes of Homelessness 7gt withGraphTheory withRandomGraphs withSpecialGraphs C1 Graphwndirected 12 13 1 4 1 5 1 6 17 1 8H DrawGraphC Imagine this tree graph representing all homelessness A person starts out at position 1 with a minimum wage job living with two children Expenses include food childcare housing and that doesn39t include healthcare or transportation nor does it include any vacation education or emergency funds These are just some of the examples as to where a person s money can go positions 28 According to the Economic Policy Institute a typical budget for a threeperson family ranges from 20000 to 40000 even though the poverty threshold can often be much less than that When there s a shortage on money what gets cut Unable to pay rent lack of affordable housing Average Hours and Earnings on Private Nonfarm Payrolls Industry Wkl Hourly Weekl y Earnings y Hrs Earnin gs Manufacturi 412 1643 7113 ng 1726 with 6 overtime Construction 390 2095 8160 6 Business 34 8 2013 7001 Services 5 EducationH 326 1811 5901 ealt 8 Services Leisure and 255 1041 2654 Hospitality 5 Source www bls gov From this same source the average hours worked per week for all production and nonsupervisory workers of all private sectors is 338 with an average hourly wage of 1742 58972 per week According to the Economic Policy Institute a basic family budget in the Philadelphia area looks like this Monthly housing 932 Monthly food 317 Monthly childcare 709 Monthly transportation 277 Monthly healthcare 210 Monthly other necessities 300 Monthly taxes 634 This adds up to 3380 per month for an averagesized family or 40561 per year 7gt 7113652 7 3699072 211 gt 8160652 7 4243512 212 gt 7001552 7 3640780 213 gt 5901852 7 3068936 214 gt 2654552 7 1380340 215 gt 5897252 7 3066544 216 That means that out of these professions only a construction worker is able to live with a family in the Philadelphia area on average In fact the average worker is not able to support a family by himherself in the Philly area For many people they are fortunate enough to have two incomes per household but for a single parent times are tough Remember these salaries are based on jobs for private companies not all people work in this sector The Universal Living Wage formula is based on a 40hour workweek with 30 of income allocated for housing as set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Sample Living Wage Formula Calculations 1 HUD STANDARD No more than 30 of a person s gross income should be spent on Housing 2 HUD Fair Market Rent 667One Bedroom Apartment in Anywhere State USA 3 TOTAL MONTHLY INCOME 667 divided by 3 222333 monthly gross income necessary to afford basic housing 4 PREMISE Anyone working 40 hours per week should be able to get housing and get off of the streets1 5 WORK HOURS 40 hoursweek 433 weeksmonth 17333 work hoursmonth 17333 work hours X 12 months 2080 hoursyear 6 Total Gross Monthly Income of 222333 X 12 months 26680 26680 divided by 2080 hoursyear 1283hourNEW HOURLY WAGE in Anywhere State USA 7 Total Monthly Expenditures 222333 Total Gross Monthly Income 2 50358 Fed Taxes Soc Sec Medicare sup 66700 Housing Costs 105275 Remaining for Medical Clothing Food Transportation and Telephone lWhether a person works 4 hours per week or 40 hours per week they should be paid at the full 40 hour rate A full hours work deserves a full hours wage 2Minus 33350 for Federal Income Tax 13785 for Social Security and 3224 for Medicare The Federal Income Tax rate 15 is based on the monthly deductions outline in the Internal Revenue Circular E Employers Tax Guide Rev Jan 2000 Social Security is 62 of gross monthly income and Medicare is 145 of gross monthly income Total equals 50358 Source Universal Living Wage wwwuniversallivingwageorg The Universal Living Wage for Pittsburgh PA in a 1bedroom apartment is calculated at 1071hour and 1117hour in Lancaster PA Okay so these living wages make sense for someone working in education or business But how about someone working at a minimum wage job In Pennsylvania the minimum wage is 715 wwwdol gov Let39s gure out how far this money will go gt 7154052 1487200 217 gt 73212 608800 218 gt 31712 228400 219 gt 23412 52400 2110 Wow that was fast I used Excel to take the average of the Economic Policy Institute39s Basic Family Budget in many different regions around the country The average monthly costs were as follows 732 for housing 317 for food 582 for childcare 335 for transportation 234 for healthcare 252 for other necessities and 234 for taxes The average total for a year is 32241 much more than the average income for a minimumwage worker When the average minimum V wage income was calculated 715hour 40 hoursweek 52 weeksyear 14872year there was only enough money to pay for housing food and part of healthcare before resulting in a negative number Clearly the minimum wage is not enough to cover a basic family budget quotThe connection between impoverished workers and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters many of which house signi cant numbers of fulltime wage earners In 2007 a survey performed by the US Conference of Mayors found that 174 of homeless adults in families were employed while 13 of homeless single adults or unaccompanied youth were employed A survey of 24 US cities found that 13 of persons in homeless situations are employed US Conference of Mayors 2005 Surveys in past years have yielded the percentage of homeless working to be as high as 26 US Conference of Mayors 2000 In a number of cities not surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors as well as in many states the percentage is even higher National Coalition for the Homeless 1997 The future of job growth does not appear promising for many workers a 1998 study estimated that 46 ofthejobs with the most growth between 1994 and 2005 pay less than 16000 a year these jobs will not lift families out of poverty National Priorities Project 1998 Moreover 74 of these jobs pay below a livable wage 32185 for a family of fourquotfrom www nationalhomeless org Unfortunately this proves that people are not homeless because they are not working Instead many people with a fulltime job are still not able to make ends meet 7 Lack of affordable health care Health care is obviously a large cost that many poor people unwisely forgo In 2004 according to the US Bureau of the Census about 15 of the population did not have health insurance For people experiencing homelessness prevalent health problems include infections abuse from attacks malnutrition poor hygiene and sometimes drug abuse or HIVAIDS Imagine a person has to go to the doctor39s office for a 200 visit Is it worth it to get insurance for a yearly doctor39s appt For a doctor39s appointment every 5 years When will it be worth it CELTIC PPO 8020 deductible 5000 coinsurance 20 office visit 30 monthly cost 14634 Red line represents a yearly doctor39s appointment with insurance 30 12 months 250 per month to budget for the visit plus 14634 14884 per month Green line represents a yearly doctor39s appt wo insurance 200 12 months 1667 monthly Blue line represents a doctor s appointment every 5 years 30 60 months 50 per month plus 14634 14684 monthly Black line represents a doctor39s appt every 5 years wo insurance 200 12 months 333 mont ly gt plot 14884 x 1667 x 14684 x 333 x x 0 60 color red green blue black title quotThe Cost of Health Insurancequot The Cost of Health Insurance 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 Obviously health insurance is very expensive and in a regular situation it seems that it wouldn39t ever be worth it to get insurance What would make it worth it is even one necessary surgery which could be 50000 or more In this plan the insured person would pay 5000 deductible and 20 of 50000 10000 which totals to 15000 That s a lot better than 50K Health insurance all depends on the chances a person is willing to take but these examples just show that it is better to be safe then sorry 50000 would make any health insurance plan worth it This graph does not even begin to cover emergency room visits hospital procedures medications or vaccinations This explains why so many people go without health insurance and why so many people use free healthcare services from soup kitchens to get vaccinations and checkups Being healthy isn39t cheap Other causes of homelessness quotCurrent Temporary Assistance to Needy Families bene ts and Food Stamps combined are below the poverty level in every state in fact the current maximum TANF bene t for a single mother of two children is 29 of the federal poverty level Nickelson 2004 Thus contrary to popular opinion welfare does not provide relief from poverty quot from www nationalhomeless org To focus on the food stamp program statistics are shocking I have seen people come into the soup kitchen with food stamps but I had no idea how poor off these people were In 2005 according to the Department of Public Welfare of PA there were 00 of people who had property excluding housing No property 899 did not have a vehicle and 727 did not have an earned income Food Stamp Coupon Allotment in 2005 099 26 3 100 34 199 5 200 17 299 0 300 11 399 9 400 or 10 more 4 Source Department of Public Welfare ofP 7gt 263500 7 131500 231 gt 3541500 7 531000 232 gt 1702500 7 425000 233 gt 1193500 7 416500 234 gt 1044500 468000 235 gt 1315 5310 4250 4165 4680 19720 236 If 100 people received food stamps from Pennsylvania the total would probably be just under 20000 as shown by these calculations Many more than 100 people in the entire state received food stamps which just shows how big this problem is Some more statistics that surprised me 3 in 4 people who received food stamps in PA in 2005 were women Over half only had a high school education 1 in 4 were employed And almost 1 in 5 people who got food stamps that year had 3 or more children wwwdpwstatepaus It39s interesting to note that the family budget of food was 317 whereas over half the people who receive food stamps only received 199 or less that year Where does the rest of the money come from Due to lack of time I won t explore other issues but here is what the National Coalition of the Homeless reports on some other factors quotDomestic Violence Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness In a study of 777 homeless parents the majority of whom were mothers in ten US cities 22 said they had left their last place of residence because of domestic violence Homes for the Homeless 1998 In addition 50 of the cities surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness US Conference of Mayors 2005 Studying the entire country though reveals that the problem is even more serious Nationally approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are eeing domestic violence Zorza 1991 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 2001 Mental Illness Approximately 16 of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness US Conference of Mayors 2005 Despite the disproportionate number of severely mentally ill people among the homeless population increases in homelessness are not attributable to the release of severely mentally ill people from institutions Most patients were released from mental hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s yet vast increases in homelessness did not occur until the 1980s when incomes and housing options for those living on the margins began to diminish rapidly According to the 2003 US Department of Health and Human Services Report most homeless persons with mental illness do not need to be institutionalized but can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options US Department of Health and Human Services 2003 However many mentally ill homeless people are unable to obtain access to supportive housing andor other treatment services The mental health support services most needed include case management housing and treatment Addiction Disorders The relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and controversial While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless population the increase in homelessness over the past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone Many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness During the 1980s competition for increasingly scarce lowincome housing grew so intense that those with disabilities such as addiction and mental illness were more likely to lose out and find themselves on the streets The loss of SRO housing a source of stability for many poor people suffering from addiction and or mental illness was a major factor in increased homelessness in many communities Addiction does increase the risk of displacement for the precariously housed in the absence of appropriate treatment it may doom one s chances of getting housing once on the streets Homeless people often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining health care including addictive disorder treatment services and recovery supports The following are among the obstacles to treatment for homeless persons lack of health insurance lack of documentation waiting lists scheduling difficulties daily contact requirements lack of transportation ineffective treatment methods lack of supportive services and cultural insensitivity An indepth study of 13 communities across the nation revealed service gaps in every community in at least one stage of the treatment and recovery continuum for homeless people National Coalition for the Homeless 1998quot Violence against the Homeless Beaten to death with a claw hammer Brutally beaten with baseball bats and sticks quotIt 39s just totally senseless beating quot quotI could feel my skin burning quot quotThere was so much blood I thought I was going to diequot Bludgeoned with a sh ovel Act of Absolute Hatred Raped repeatedly tomped on Attacked by a gang Suckerpunched Stalked quotfrom the National Coalition of the Homeless quotThe term hate crime generally conjures up images of cross burnings and lynchings swastikas on Jewish synagogues and horri c murders of gays and lesbians In 1968 the US Congress de ned a hate crime as a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim or in the case of a property crime the property that is the object of the crime because of their race color or national origin Title 18 USC Section 245 The first federal law to combat hate crimes 18 USC Section 245 passed in 1968 it mandated that the government must prove both that the crime occurred because of a victim s membership in a designated group and because the victim was engaged in certain specified federallyprotected activities such as serving on a jury voting or attending public school Federal bias crime laws enacted subsequently have provided additional coverage The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 HCSA authorizes the Justice Department to collect data from law enforcement agencies about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based upon race religion sexual orientation or ethnicity The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act enacted as a section of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 defines hate crimes as a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim or in the case of a property crime the property that is the object of the crime because of the actual or perceived race color national origin ethnicity gender disability or sexual orientation of any person This measure only applies to attacks and vandalism that occur in national parks and on federal propertyquot from wwwmationolhomeless org Hate crimes are becoming more prevalent against the homeless in more recent years Statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless show quotAge Ranges ofthe AccusedConvicted 10two 11 12 13three 14eight 15eighteen 16 eleven 17eleven 18f1fteen 19eight 20seven 22three 23 24siX 25f1ve 27four 28 two 29two 30 32 two 33 36 47 61 62 Age ranges ofthe victims in 2007 22 26 29 30 31 32four 33 34 35f1ve 36 37 38two 39 three 40four 41 42three 43three 44four 45two 46two 47three 48three 49seven 50f1ve 51 53two 54 55three 56 57 58 two 59 63two 68two Gender of victims Male 108 Female 18quot gt Acc 10101112131313141414141414141415151515151515 1515151515151515151515161616161616161616161617 1717171717171717171718181818181818181818181818 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 22 22 22 23 24 24 24 24 24 24 25 25 25 25 25 27 27 27 27 28 28 29 29 30 32 33 36 47 61 62 Vic 22 22 26 29 30 31 32 32 32 32 33 34 35 35 35 35 35 36 37 38 38 39 39 39 40 40 40 40 41 42 42 42 43 43 43 44 44 44 44 45 45 46 46 47 47 47 48 48 48 49 49 49 49 49 49 49 50 50 50 50 50 51 53 53 54 55 55 55 L 56 57 58 58 59 63 63 68 68 gt MeanAccModeAccMedianAcc QuartileAcc 3 Mean VicModeVicMedianWc Quartile Vic 1 1973913043 15 18 22 4433766234 49 44 3766666667 31 These statistics are very useful The NCH statistics on accusedvictims of hate crimes against persons experiencing homelessness in 2007 show that the average age of someone accused of this crime is 197 years old the most people of the same age accused of this crime is 15 years old and the middle age is 18 years old all very young ages The third quartile meaning the number that marks 34 of the set which we can use to measure the lower 75 of the list is 22 years old so most of the people accused for these hate crimes are 22 years old or younger That39s just about how old we are As far as the people against whom these crimes are committed most of them are older By nding the rst quartile we can prove that 75 of the victims of hate crimes are about 38 years old or older Over half are 44 years old that39s as old as many of our parents if not older The most repeated age of the victims are 49 years old which is also pretty old 217 557 gt evalf 774 evalfi774 02803617571 07196382429 32 463 66 gt evalf 529 evalf 463 08752362949 01425485961 33 According to NCH about 28 of violent acts against persons experiencing homelessness result in death Re read That means 7 out of 25 homeless attacked die In the past nine years violent crimes have occured in 45 US states In the past nine years there have been 529 victims about 88 of them men All victims range in age from 4 months to 74 years old attacked by people from ages 10 to 74 What kind of world do we live in where 10yearolds attack people on the streets What can be done There are a few bills HR 2216 and HR 2217 which would force the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to include crimes against people experiencing homelessness as quothate crimesquot In addition creating awareness of hate crimes and lack of affordable housing through speakers and letterwriting is very important quotEnding Homelessness 7 Doing Our Part to Make a Di 39erence m ymyday ls bmkzn up m m mm m m quota p12 51m and cammmng clackvnse 5 hauls spams gt mmmmm 1a 61 K2 36 1a 25 1a 51 K5 251 as 3 4 gt In magnumme adsntov an Kb sactov9D 144 a PM mama color mango aChanUG color yallow4ctov 144 122 a Pmdmvt acolovigvungntovi182 257 a Pmevt mm257 m K m 6 gt duplawKalbKlt KdXC m chant gt mic 10 color ma 36D or maroon mm my 151m mom HDwISpendMyDny VOLUNTEER work with the homeless at a soup kitchen or help build houses with an organization like Habitat for Humanity ADVOCATE send emails through a nonpro t like National Coalition for the Homeless to Congress or call SenatorsRepresentatives BECOME AWARE attend a panellecture on homelessness say hi to the homeless person on the street or buy a local street newspaper from a vendor profits go to the vendors often poor and homeless gt 3560 752 764400 41 gt 05 3822000 42 35 hours each day and sixty minutes per hour for 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year 76440 minutes each year to spend on work Imagine spending only 5 of that time working to end homelessness in one of these ways or any other That s over 3500 minutes Many of these actions only take a few minutes each so why not spend time doing what can be done Homelessness is a very serious problem that can definitely be prevented if we all only give a little time to the cause Now that you know what are you going to do about it