Essay on Opposing Views on Homelessness

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The sub-topic being discussed in this essay is the social problem of homelessness. Currently. Homelessness is identified as a social problem discussed briefly in the academic book Introduction to Social Problems. In an introduction to social problems, homelessness is acknowledged as a social problem of poverty (Isaacs et al., 2014). however, homelessness may not always be associated with poverty independently (Isaacs et al., 2014). The three leading causes of homelessness identified in an introduction to social problems are demographic changes, individual circumstances such as personal issues, and structural factors that can affect an individual's issues (Isaacs et al., 2014). Homelessness is when individuals do not have safe, stable, fixed, or inadequate housing (Housing Act 1996). Homelessness is a complex issue in society as there is not one sole reason why an individual can become homeless; numerous factors contribute to an individual becoming and experiencing homelessness. Homelessness is an important issue to discuss due to the numerous individuals experiencing this social issue. There is no official nationwide figure on how many homeless individuals are. However, in 2019 it was estimated that 280,000 individuals were classed as being homeless (Shelter, 2019). Additional explanations as to why homelessness is a critical issue to discuss are individuals who have not experienced homelessness form common-sense views surrounding homeless individuals. This essay shall discuss the social construction of homelessness, the common-sense view of homelessness, and the models such as the individualism model, the self-makings model, and the rational actor model, which all contribute to how the public perceives Homeless individuals as well as forms the common-sense view towards the homelessness, alternative perspectives on homelessness such as structural problems concerning homelessness, and what the research and evidence on homelessness provide.

Social construction preserves the details of the world as a result of the interactions of individuals within their social environment (Isaacs et al., 2014). The social construction of homelessness is primarily perceived by how individuals in society witness homelessness. Currently, rough sleeping is considered the most visible type of homelessness (Reeve, 2011). However, homelessness is much more diverse than rough sleepers, as most of the homelessness are hidden away from society and are not as visible as rough sleeping. This causes the social construction of homelessness to be formed by rough sleepers leading to the social construction of homelessness in which all homeless individuals are rough sleepers. Individuals also suggest that homelessness results from personal defects, such as substance abuse (Cronley, 2010), causing another social construction of homelessness that homelessness occurs due to substance abuse or homelessness individuals have addictions to substances. Socioeconomic and political transformations can also contribute to the social construction of homelessness (Robertson and Greenblatt, 1992).

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How the homelessness sector and the media portray homelessness directly impacts public knowledge and perspectives on the problem (Crisis, 2018), which causes numerous individuals to have a common-sense view of homelessness. Often, when individuals get requested to assume an image of someone encountering homelessness, an image of an individual lying intoxicated on the pavement or a desperate-looking individual requesting money on the streets (Isaacs et al., 2014) forms in their minds. Even though multiple individuals have witnessed individuals like this in society, these experiences are far from the reality of what homelessness means to the individual in that position (Isaacs et al., 2014). As rough sleeping is the primary homelessness that is most visible and noticed by society, numerous individuals associate rough sleeping with homelessness. This form of homelessness witnessed by society assembles one of the common-sense views toward homelessness: every homeless individual is a rough sleeper and resides on the streets. However, rough sleeping is only a tiny part of the social problem of homelessness (Isaacs et al., 2014), and many individuals experiencing homelessness are hidden from the public view (Crisis, 2018). The public correlates homelessness with individuals residing on the streets and the absence of not having a place to live (Crisis, 2018). This combination causes individuals to articulate extremely negative emotions about homelessness (Crisis, 2018). This view of homelessness is problematic in society because it misrepresents the full range of homelessness and blocks understanding of other forms of homelessness (Crisis, 2018). The individualism model can also contribute common-sense view of homelessness that individuals in society have. Individualism is a model which enormously affects how the public thinks. It forms how individuals perceive the reasons and repercussions of homelessness (Crisis, 2018). In this model, individuals witness the reasons for homelessness through a lens that examines individual characters and situations (Crisis, 2018). From this, individuals view the primary explanations for homelessness as individual choices and circumstances such as addiction to drugs and alcohol (Crisis, 2018). The self-makings model believes that individuals make and determine their choices (Crisis, 2018). According to this model, all individuals can acquire success; people who experience homelessness have failed to work hard and grasp those opportunities (Crisis, 2018). This model forms the common-sense view that individuals attribute success or failure to whether a person has tried hard enough or not and forms another common-sense view that individuals are homeless because individuals choose behaviors that lead to the loss of housing (Crisis, 2018). The rational actor model also contributes to the common-sense views individuals in society have of individuals experiencing homelessness. This model displays that numerous homeless people have concluded that homelessness is more suitable than conforming to society's responsibilities, norms, and expectations (Crisis, 2018). Therefore this assembles the common-sense view that homelessness is a judgment made by an individual to bypass the expenditures of family life, participation in the employment market, or social responsibilities (Crisis, 2018).

There are alternative perspectives regarding homelessness. As rough sleeping is the most visible and tends to be what individuals in society believe homelessness to be, other classifications of homelessness are not visible to society. They have higher rates of individuals experiencing them. There are no official statistics on how many individuals are rough sleeping; however, it was estimated that 2,688 individuals were known to be sleeping rough on the streets in one night (The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, 2021) compared to the estimation of hidden homeless individuals living situations which frequently involve sofa surfing, squatting, or sleeping on public transport and that 12,500 people will be hidden homeless on any night in, with 60,000 household's sofa surfing (London Assembly Housing Committee, 2017) and in 2021 96,060 households were living in temporary accommodation (Wilson and Barton, 2022). This evidence shows that more individuals are sofa surfing, squatting, sleeping on public transport, and living in temporary accommodation than homeless individuals living on the streets as rough sleepers. Demographic changes are another perspective on why individuals are experiencing homelessness. For example, alone, the population has gone up by 20 percent since the mid-1990s (Isaacs et al., 2014); this growth has materialized due to external migration and an increasingly more senior population and internal domestics (Isaacs et al., 2014). These trends can put increased pressure on housing (Isaacs et al., 2014). Government policies are also an alternative perspective as to why homelessness occurs. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, there was a political conclusion to reduce investment in social housing and sell existing housing by allowing social housing tenants the right to buy their homes (Isaacs et al., 2014). This conclusion took away thousands of social housing homes from the public sector and was never replaced (Isaacs et al., 2014). An additional perspective on homelessness is the structural problems that are causing homelessness. Structural factors can include unfavorable housing, rising poverty rates, and the welfare and benefits system (Alma Economics, 2019). The present rate of houses required to be constructed to fulfill the existing and expected demand of individuals requiring them is around half the level they need to be at (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015). This shortfall in the supply of new homes is one factor that contributes to rising house prices (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015) Rising rent prices of homes are rising, and data has suggested that private rent price increases are averaging around 2% a year since 2007 (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015). Changes to the benefits system have also been responsible for homelessness. The benefits system has become much more brutal, with more suspensions, sanctions, and exclusions (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2015). These changes impact individuals and leave them without enough income to afford their rent, causing them to be homeless. Benefit caps have also been introduced by the government (Homeless Link, 2021), causing individuals who are on benefits to be only able to claim a set amount of money for housing costs. Individuals claiming housing elements as part of their benefits are likely to be renting a property that costs more than their benefit housing element (Homeless Link, 2021). The failure of the government to cover housing costs pushes people into rent arrears (Homeless Link, 2021), causing individuals to be unable to meet the rent arrears, therefore, leading them to lose their homes and become homeless.

When examining the recent research and evidence on homelessness, economic factors are one of the foremost contributors to homelessness rates. One of 's primary homeless monitors, written by crisis, discusses and evaluates yearly statistics and estimations on the homeless. Overall, homelessness is increasing substantially (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). The statutory homelessness caseload for local authorities has declined; however, it remains 42 percent above its low point in 2009 (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Homelessness temporary accommodation has increased by 71 percent (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). In 2018 Eighty-five thousand homeless households were found to be living in temporary accommodation, equating to over 200,000 people (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Official estimates suggest that rough sleeping has fallen by 2 percent nationally; however, there are still ascending trends of rough sleepers in three of's four central regions, Manchester and Birmingham (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). For example, in rough sleeping has risen by 25% in 12 months (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). This data suggests that homelessness is increasing overall. Even though the proportion of rough sleeping and statutory homeless individuals has decreased, other classifications of homelessness, such as individuals living in temporary accommodation, are on the rise. The factors that are most strongly associated with these rising trends of homelessness are economic factors. Unemployment rates are at 4 percent, which is the lowest recorded rate since the mid-1970s (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Poverty rates are essential in establishing the context in which homelessness transpires (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Increased poverty levels are expected to place more households at risk of homelessness, especially when housing costs are involved (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Entrance to homeownership has become increasingly challenging since the late 1990s as house prices have increased faster than incomes from employment (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Access to affordable and socially rented housing has been more challenging (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Social housing is continuing to decrease. In 2018, less than 18,000 social lets were given to homeless households and individuals, even with statutory homelessness increasing substantially (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). Sixty-four percent of local authorities informed the crisis that when social landlords require financial capability or housing affordability checks, these make it increasingly complicated for homeless households to gain tenancies (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019). This data suggests that the economic factors discussed above contribute to the trends in homelessness rates. Local housing allowance reforms, benefit cuts, and universal credit for the new welfare system are also likely to hold particular importance for homelessness (Fitzpatrick et al., 2019).

Homelessness is a complex issue to discuss due to the numerous factors that can generate it, such as policies, individual circumstances, and structural issues. The evidence and statistics on homelessness and the evidence-based factors contributing to and causing individuals to become homeless indicate that homelessness is a much more significant problem. Currently, statistical evidence is primarily estimated, which shows there may be more individuals experiencing homelessness than the total number in estimations. In summary, the social construction of homelessness is that homeless individuals are perceived by how homeless individuals are witnessed in society, with rough sleepers at the forefront; however, many more individuals experiencing homelessness aren't solely rough sleepers. The social construction of homelessness connects with the common-sense view of homelessness that individuals are homeless due to substance abuse or because they choose to be, as well as the influence of the media and the public models, on individuals who hold the common-sense view of homelessness, which contributes to the negative stereotypes a homelessness individual has placed on them and perceived by individuals in society. From examining the evidence on homelessness, some classifications of homelessness are decreasing however other classifications are continuing to rise and economic factors are contributing to the rising trends.

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