Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

Some solutions for the problem of homeless people

Global economical crisis has carried (within other crucial factors) some problems apart from the economical state itself (from national social issues to worlwide big-scale political confrontation). This situation has been very obvious in the Third World where people suffer undernourishment, poverty and diseases. However, in the First World there is a major issue with a large relationship with this problems. I am talking about homeless people. For talking about this issue, I am going to take into account and quote some articles written by the New York Times which talk about homelesses situation at the High-Coast Cities which are very similar to many cities in Europe. The articles are: “We know what helps the homeless. Now we need more funding” by Mary Brosnahan, “Support Community land trusts for affordable housing” by Willian Burnett; and “Ease rent and building regulations to free up affordable housing” by Howard Husock.

Starting with the aricle written by Mary Brosnahan he states that the situation of homeless people in cities such as New York has vastly improved. But, however, Brosnahan indicates that there is still a lot do “We know what works: Now, we just need investments in the solutions at a larger and more sustained scale”.  What does she call “more sustained scale” to? She says that people with mental illnesses need now more help than the “average” homeless. In addition, related to this, Brosnahan remarks the impressive work made by Bill de Blasio, the New York´s major, who have invest in households in order to provide this homeless people a place to live whereas their situation gets better. In fact, Brosnahan indicates: ” Without the mayor’s efforts, the crisis we face today would be far worse. But the city cannot fully solve the problem on its own”. This last statement claims that there is still lot of task to accomplish.

The following article is written by William S. Burnett, the leader and board member of the foundation Picture the Homeless. Burnett starts his article accepting the good resolutions taken by de Blasio but he is not completely convinced by all these solutions: “Services and funding can easily change with the political climate. For example, thousands of former shelter residents lost their homes when Mayor Bloomberg abruptly canceled the “Advantage” housing subsidy program in 2011″ he says. In other words, he indicates that election of one or other leader can lead to a lack of stability on the institutions and the task their are trying to accomplish. So what does Barnett suggest? Firstly, he wants to enforce the structure and relationship homeless-individuals-communities. He states that a correct running and the interconnection between the parts will result in a more powerful aiding structure. Then, he wants a safe place where homelesses can live. He proposes housing associations which can maintain a big amount of people with a minimun of quality (for example, “Cooper Square Community Land Trust”) Finally, as an example, he introduces some cases were this kind of proposals had been thriving: East Harlem/El Barrio neighbourhood or some other communities nationwide.

The last articel I have taken is “Ease Rent and Building Regulations to Free Up Affordable Housing” by Howard Husock, vice president for research and publications at the Manhattan Institute, among other things. Firstly, Husock makes a point in seeking and identifying the different situations of homelesses. He argues that the problems of many of them are drug or alcohol problems and, maybe, what they need is a place where they get detoxified. However, the problem related to housing is that the cost of rents are to high to afford. According to Husock, the reason of increasement is that housing markets have kept prices very high and those houses are free or empty. As a solution, Husock indicates: “Easing limitations on construction would also open up the market, and allow those who need lower-cost housing to get it” or, in other words, build cheaper building with good and cheap materials.. Other solution would be helping housing markets work with new and innovative financial politics, in other words, goverment should make an effort in providing a new financial viewpoint in order to help homelesses.

These three approaches give different viewpoints of what is happening with homelesses these days but United States of America´s situation is not unique. Whereas the crisis in most European countries has not relatively gone worse, in Spain population is suffering the effects of the crisis. According to Helvie and Kunstmann (1999), in the 90s Spain´s situation related to homelesses was a lot better than these days thanks to a strong family traces and the importnace of family structure . In that time, the main reasons of homelessing in Spain, according to them, were poverty, high-social exclusion and unemployment. Mental disorders were also a potencial reason of homelessing . Nowadays, the people near the povert line are almost a 30% which shows the critical economical and social situation in Spain. Some of thesolutions given in the articles may help dealing with the problem but we must be aware of the social differences between the societies that, despite being not many, still there are they could make a differnce in the way we act.



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