Homelessness-Facing Deeper Questions about this Complex & Global Issue-Part I: Who are they?

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By Lori Austin, LCSW

Late last year I wrote the introduction to this short blog series on this tough issue along with the related crowdsource funding project designed to help.

It’s hard to imagine being homeless right now in most recent negative 4 degree weather here in Eliot, ME as I begin to share the first part of the three-part series on homelessness. Once again I am overwhelmed at the extensiveness of this issue.  Many are staying out in the cold all night while I get to be warm inside in my small apartment and safe. I have gathered a few blankets to share and winter attire but is that really enough?

In doing some research on this topic on who are the homeless here in the USA and globally the consensus concludes that there is no agreed set single definition on homelessness. Two types of homelessness include the “rough sleeper, ”an EU term or street homelessness and those dwelling in shelters.  Due to this disagreement it is hard to measure an accurate picture.   The homeless that can be measured are known as  “point-in-time” homeless which includes the rough sleepers and those in shelters. The USA has gathered statistics by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development focuses on the breakdown of the housing market, housing conditions and public policies inclusive of other countries as well.  

What’s important to note as well is the pervasiveness of the depth of this issue.  In much of my research it is noted that homelessness can stem from poverty and social exclusion.

Homelessness is a mark of failure for communities in providing basic security. Click To Tweet

Some of the targeted populations of homeless individuals include veterans, families, women, those that are LGBTQ and youth. Some of theses targeted groups also cannot be completely measured as they are not always visible for the  “point in time” calculations. The list goes on and on but these larger targets are the focus of many prevention efforts worldwide. Atlacorp.org discusses further the homelessness is a global pandemic that needs all hands in deck.

At least 2% of the world population are homeless (rough sleepers). And 20% lack adequate housing.  Australia and the Czech Republic have higher amounts of homelessness.  Some countries can be looked to for help to alleviate homelessness as they have eradicated the issue.  These countries include: Japan, Canada,Denmark and Singapore.

Again, it is particularly troublesome to think about the homeless out in the cold right now. This particular blogpost focuses on who they are briefly in the world. The next part will focus on evidence based practices of the how they can be helped.  At this time if you would like to learn more please contact me ( Laustin302@gmail.com ) and please consider a donation to my charity run for Back on My Feet. This is a United States intervention effort to alleviate this pandemic in 12 major cities and continually striving to add more. 

Author Bio

Lori Austin, LCSW,  is a 2000 graduate of  Boston College with joint Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Pastoral Ministry. Lori has worked in a variety of clinical social work settings primarily with children and families. Most recently, Lori worked as a Military and Family Life Counselor in the United States and has traveled overseas working in Asia and the United Kingdom.  She provided brief solution focused counseling to military families and children.  In her free time Lori likes to run, drink coffee, laugh and make others laugh and help make the world a better place. She hopes you will consider a donation to Back on My Feet or other effort to eradicate homelessness.

Resource Links: 

atlascorps.org blog on homelessness




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