Homelessness around the world has been downplayed over the past few years, the issue pushed down or brushed off by the government until it didn't seem like such a big deal to a lot of people anymore. It became something most people scorned, finding the homeless disgusting or weird, beginning to blame these people for the situation they ended up in without knowing the full story. It isn't always the case, however, that these people are totally at fault for what happened to them. A sizable amount of the homeless population consists of men or women who came back home after serving for the military to find they had lost their property, or their families had left them, and ended up on the streets after the government had turned a blind eye on their predicament. Children also make up a good portion of the homeless population in both America and Asheville alone.
Throughout America, homelessness has decreased by 0.3% between 2017 to 2018, surprising? Well, it’s still not enough, throughout the US, over 552,000 people were homeless in 2018. Half of the people experiencing homelessness in 2018 were in one of five states, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: “California (24%), New York (17%), Florida (6%), Texas (5%) and Washington (4%). African Americans represent 13% of the US’s population but 40% of them are homeless and 1/2 of the 40% are children.” Males are more likely to be homeless than females, 60% of the homeless are males in 2018, according to HUD. In January 2018, 38,000 veterans faced homelessness on a given night, the rate of overall homelessness has also dropped significantly.
In the United States as a whole we have to work to decrease the homeless population but, how is homelessness in Asheville, NC. Asheville has had a spike in homeless numbers since 2017 with a 10 percent increase due to lack of affordable housing. The U.S housing estimates that a homeless person costs taxpayers $40,000 per year and in Buncombe county that estimates to $22 million dollars. Due to the lack of sufficient housing around the country having homeless numbers increase has been a trend. This means that those who are homeless stay homeless longer. Sadly 43 percent of the homeless population in Buncombe county are veterans due to many different reasons. Luckily Asheville has a lot of organizations that can help homeless people and those in need.
One of the biggest questions about homelessness is, are certain groups more likely to be homeless than others? This is true, for example, Eighty percent of homelessness is split equally between African Americans or Caucasians according to a study from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in 2018. Ten percent of that goes to mix and the rest goes to Alaska Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander and Asian. There is a lot of disproportionality among African Americans. They take forty percent of homelessness but are thirteen percent of the general population of the United States. The big problem is that this imbalance is not improving. We can do something about it like assuring affordable, stable housing for all. Some of the top causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse. These factors can lead to homelessness in a matter of time.
There are multiple ways to prevent homelessness. Homeless prevention includes policies, practices, and interventions to reduce the likeliness of people losing their homes. There are three types of homeless prevention: Universal, which targets the broad public, Selected which is aimed at members of specific groups, and Indicated, which is aimed at individuals identified with problems. If these ways of prevention don’t work and one becomes homeless, going to a homeless shelter is a good first step. There are seven main shelters here in Asheville, some for children, some for women, and some for all. Some shelters provide overnight stays, but some just have meals. Helping the homeless can be really easy as well. You can go to a local shelter and ask what materials are needed and donate some. Before you personally help someone, make sure you know their situation and if they want help. Homelessness in Asheville is a major problem, but there are many ways to prevent it and help those affected.
Story by Sarah Comer, Lily Severance, Sierra Stock, Taylor Franklin,