Homelessness is one of the ugly things that the contemporary society has to tackle in spite of significant human progress. In one section of the society, there are people living in plush homes with exquisite interior décor and even the amount of rooms that could be considered excess. On the other section of the society, however, an ordinary person lacks even the basic conveniences of shelter. The US Department of Housing estimates that over half a million of people in the US are homeless. This suggests that more than 1 million children could be homeless annually. This remains a critical problem for policy makers, service providers, the government, and the society in general. It is arguable that the cause of homelessness mainly lies in poverty.

Poverty in the US is unlike poverty everywhere else because it is a high-income country. However, in spite of the colossal economy, some individuals cannot afford even the most affordable housing. Poverty occurs in a relative sense in a way that the cost of life outpaces the income growth of certain individuals. As the cost of housing has increased, some individuals do not possess the income to afford the current housing products (Gray-Garcia, 2006). In certain cases, inherited poverty bars people from living a standard life. Poverty, in essence, is not just a contemporary problem. Poverty is traced to the beginning of the American nation in the fading eighteenth century. In the beginning of the 20th century, approximately forty percent of the people were poor. The phenomenon was a consequence of notable structural problems related to the then juvenile capitalistic development. To begin with, the economy was insufficient to provide for everyone. In addition, the socio-economic order inequitably distributed wealth. In addition, there was mild public welfare, no old-age pensions, and no unemployment insurance. In the late twentieth century, the scenario is much different given the New Deal policies that catapulted the American economy to unimaginable heights. The economy has grown to help raise the living standards of a better part of the population. This suggests that wealth redistributed over time.  A welfare system has also grown to cater for the less privileged part of the population. In spite of the efforts at fighting poverty, it remains a huge problem affecting the social, health, and the political realms of the American society.

Poverty, as a cause of the economic system’s structural faults, occupies many dimensions. Capitalism traditionally embeds within the labor factor. In proposing capitalism, Adam Smith argues that labor is the price of goods. In this sense, one is compensated for the efforts invested in the labor of producing a good or a service. This proved an essential concept when the American economy was recovering from the Great Depression. Labor was not only used to price goods, but it was also employed to stimulate the economy. This is because labor remains the principal means of redistributing wealth from the rich to the other part of the population. Besides, labor helped individuals with the income for their expenditure. Indeed, in the 1950’s, the government established programs for spurring consumption in the American economy. The average American sought to transform one’s life by developing in career to earn more money.

The housing system is a huge problem that deters people from attaining decent housing. To begin with, the housing sector is dominated by capitalists who are bent on achieving as much income as possible from the sector. The idea of speculative trading has led towards stratospheric prices that deter families of low income from accessing affordable housing. The real estate sector is one of the most overpriced industries. This means that the value of housing products are less correlated with the costs and efforts of building them. Instead, the real estate sector operates alongside the stock exchange thereby creating a system of erratic prices that is not in tandem with the realities of the economy. This manifested in the 2008/2009 recession when the prices of housing units drastically fell. People realized that the houses were so overpriced that they had been paying for more than they ought to have been actually paying. Besides, there is the failure of both the private sector and the government sector to offer low-cost housing. The market, therefore, is dominated by high-cost houses.  In 1970, low income houses existed in the excess of 2.4 million houses, but fifteen years later there was a deficit of 3.7 million houses (Wright, 2009). In addition, an inherent opposition to low-income housing exists.  Furthermore, the federal withdrawal from the housing sector has aggravated the problem. This is much an idea of the free market system that prizes minimum government involvement in the market. The government remains a key intermediary between inconsiderate economic forces and the welfare of the poor people. Due to the withdrawal, limited low-income housing exists because they are less profitable to the capitalists. The idea of the shelter poor argues that most families spend so much on housing that limited income is left for needs such as food.

The labor sector, however, has progressively used education and skills, as a means of allowing people into the workforce. In the beginning of the industrial revolution, education mostly occurred in the work centers since most people relatively performed manual jobs. In the recent age, however, the economy has become so complicated that companies have to recruit highly skilled workers in order to harness a considerable competitive advantage. Besides competition, the demand for quantity and efficient production constantly places pressure on potential workers to pursue better skills. Education is subject to resources and privilege, and this means that a certain part of the population remains locked out of the job sector (Bringle, 2011). This occurs in spite of the fact that jobs are the principal means of acquiring income in a capitalistic economy. In addition, jobs in the service sector have grown relative to the jobs in the manufacturing sector, which used to employ a better of the population. Service sector jobs, however, require more education and higher skills. This is coupled with the fact that the minimum wage has not grown to cater for the less skilled workers. When a certain part of the population cannot attain effective employment, they end up lacking the income to afford life’s fundamental needs such as shelter and food. The people who are homeless because of unemployment are highly likely to exist at the edge of the society is they lack the basic education or skills to qualify for the least brainy jobs.

A breakdown in the family structure is one of the causes that are non-economic, but essential. Still, in a huge sense, the breakdown in the family structure is an element of economic structure that naturally influences individualism. Since most families have to work extra hard in order to survive in the American economy, most energies are concentrated within the nuclear family. Even as siblings grow, the rift continues due to the fact that each person has struggles of one’s own. Individualism, however, is also a product of societal attitudes. In conservative nations such as Greece, the care for elderly people is so prized that are few elderly individuals in nursing homes. American streets have cases of so many people who have lost touch with their ancestry. This is because the extended family is less prized. Consequently, when a person loses the nuclear family, it becomes tragic because such a person has to find means of surviving. The rise in single-mother families suggests that such families do not have the income to support children. When the children grow up, they end lacking the start-up income for a better life. Female-headed households have high chances of ending up in poverty. To begin with, females have an unfair stake at the labor market. Despite the idea that the number of females have increased in the labor sector, they still acquire lower wages than the males. Furthermore, it has been noted that when couples divorce, chances of hopelessness and poverty increase. When people lose a sense of family, they lack the ambition to pursue normal life goals such as higher income. In the end, they can be outpaced by progress. In other cases, divorce may lead towards the loss of partners who were breadwinners in the family. The rising cases of depression among people suggest that people feel unloved. Sometimes, going to the street becomes deliberate as such people lose hope of existing within a family framework (Shally-Jensen, 2011). Staying in the streets for a considerable period further worsens the problem because they lose the emotional touch for existing in an emotionally functional setting.

The breakdown in the family is consistent with toxic American attitudes that stigmatize the poor. The political war against communism in the 1960’s is a manifestation of the American individualized culture. Most people do not understand the structural problems with the American’s hugely capitalistic system (McNamara, 2008). Attitudes stemming from the ideas of liberal individualism that pervades the American society marginalize the poor. It is essential to note that the concept of the American Dream is exaggerated as people believe that everyone has an equal chance at success. The fact that poor people are a consequence of a structure that favors the privileged is a stifled argument. In the end, there is limited support for programs targeting homelessness because such people are depicted as poor out of choice. A highly individualized culture also means limited support for communal programs such as low-income housing.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a major cause and a perpetuating factor for homelessness. Alcohol abuse has been a major problem from the pressure-eliciting American society. Most likely, it is an escape route from most individuals who cannot cope up with the pace of progress in the general society. The illicit drug market that accelerated in the 1980’s gave the poor an access to cheap but dangerous drugs that were an alternative to the relatively expensive alcohol. This includes the notorious crack cocaine that the poor increasingly used much to the devastation of their limited income. When poor people spend a considerable part of their income on drugs, they compromise on their food and shelter needs. As an accelerating factor, the prevalent drug and alcohol abuse among homeless people makes it difficult for them to move out of the streets. To begin with, such homeless people enjoy the conveniences that drug-using groups provide them. The social attachment among drug users sometimes stretches so deep that they cannot leave such groups to adapt to the normal environment.  In addition, it becomes relatively expensive to live in the normal environment because drug use sometimes constrains the desire for things such as food.  This is closely related to the problem of mental illness whereby affected people possess limited incentive to move out of homeless settings.

Indeed, a significant part of the housing problem in the US arises from poverty and related factors such as inequality. Although America has a colossal economy, poverty remains a huge problem. The labor sector has contributed towards this poverty because it marginalizes the people without required education and skills. As the cost of housing increases, certain families and individuals do not possess the corresponding income to match the growth. The housing industry operates alongside the stock exchange thereby generating erratic prices that poor people cannot keep up with the same. This is coupled with the idea that the housing sector is operated by individuals who are after profit. In addition, both the government and the private sector have limited focus in providing low-income houses. Besides poverty, America is entrenched in an individualistic attitude that does not support community-wide programs, which may help poor homeless people live off the streets. (this essay is developed by a professional from http://www.domyhomework.cc)

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