Federal Government in Dealing with Homelessness
Over time, the United States of America has experienced what can in some quarters be referred to as surprising levels of homelessness. This is regardless of the fact that the U.S. remains one of the most powerful countries in the world. With that in mind, the need for the government to take a larger role in providing an effective program to address the issue of homelessness cannot be overstated.
Homelessness in America: An Overview
According to a report formulated and prepared for Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, although the federal government has made significant progress in reducing the number of homeless veterans and the chronically homeless, “it probably will not reach its goal of ending homelessness among these two populations by 2015” (Lowrey, 2012). This is a clear indicator that the government needs to double its efforts in an attempt to rein in the menace of homelessness.
The Role of the Federal Government
It should be noted that in the past, a number of initiatives have been launched in an attempt to make homelessness history in the world’s largest economy. Some of these initiatives include funding of programs that seek to assist homeless people by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development amongst other relevant agencies. Numerous policies have also been formulated in an attempt to deal with the homelessness menace. Other organizations that have been at the forefront in seeking to address this problem include but they are not limited to Volunteers of America. Such agencies provide those in desperate need of housing with shelter on an emergency or transitional basis. However, regardless of all the efforts, homelessness remains a thorny issue to the entire country.
To conclusively address the homelessness problem, we must first critically analyze the primary causes of homelessness. Although the said causes in this case could vary widely, lack of affordable housing remains one of key causes of homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2013), “the generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30% of its annual income on housing.” In that regard, those who are most vulnerable to homelessness are individuals in the low income bracket.
In my opinion, the federal government must play a more prominent role in addressing the plight of the homeless. This is more so the case when it comes to funding the construction of housing units that are more affordable. Towards this end, the government could consider further subsidize the construction of more housing units per annum. This in my opinion could help address the severe depletion of affordable housing units throughout the country. Other considerations the federal government should explore include increasing the level of funding advanced to various homeless-service providers. The amount of funds distributed to communities via the relevant agencies in an attempt to boost affordable housing programs should also be increased. Going forward, other federal departments should also be roped in to help in making homelessness history. Departments that could play a vital role in this endeavor include but they are not limited to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
In conclusion, it should be noted that unless the federal government takes bold measures to increase the number of affordable housing units, the problem of homelessness will not be conclusively addressed anytime soon. The United States of America has both the tools and capabilities to bring to an end the homelessness menace. What lacks in my view is the proper, effective, and strategic utilization of the said tools and capabilities.
Lowrey, A. (2012, December 10). Homeless Rates in the U.S. Held Level Amid Recession, Study Says, but Big Gains are Elusive. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from The New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/us/homeless-rates-steady-despite-recession-hud-says.html?ref=housingandurbandevelopmentdepartment
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2013, Feb 5). Affordable Housing. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Department website: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/affordablehousing
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