Homelessness: The Functionalist Perspective and Potential Solutions

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 615 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 615|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Homelessness is a complex and pervasive problem that affects individuals, families, and communities across the United States. While the issue of homelessness has been present for decades, it has only recently garnered public attention as a critical social and policy challenge. Scholars and policymakers have sought to understand the underlying causes of homelessness to create effective solutions and policies that address the root causes of this crisis.

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The Functionalist Perspective on Homelessness

The functionalist perspective is a sociological theory that seeks to understand society as a complex system of interrelated parts, each with a specific function or purpose. The functionalist perspective suggests that homelessness is a product of a dysfunctional society that fails to provide adequate housing, employment, and support to its citizens. This essay explores the functionalist perspective on homelessness, focusing on its causes, consequences, and potential solutions.

According to the functionalist perspective, homelessness is caused by a combination of individual-level factors and larger societal forces. Individual-level factors that can contribute to homelessness include mental illness, substance abuse, and poverty. However, some of the systemic factors that contribute to homelessness according to the functionalist perspective are:

  • Lack of Affordable Housing: Housing costs across the United States have risen dramatically over the past few decades, while wages have stagnated. This mismatch between housing costs and wages has resulted in an affordability crisis, with many people unable to secure stable, affordable housing.
  • Income Inequality: Income inequality has also contributed to the rise of homelessness, as individuals with low wages struggle to afford basic necessities such as housing, healthcare, and food. The growing gap between the rich and poor has left many Americans with limited opportunities to escape poverty and achieve stability.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment and underemployment are also significant contributors to homelessness, as individuals who lack stable employment are unable to afford or maintain stable housing.

The functionalist perspective suggests that homelessness has a range of negative consequences for individuals, families, and communities. Some of the consequences of homelessness that align with the functionalist perspective include:

  • Physical and Mental Health Issues: Homelessness is associated with a range of physical and mental health issues, as individuals living on the streets lack access to proper healthcare and often struggle to maintain basic hygiene practices.
  • Poverty: Homelessness often leads to poverty, as individuals who lack a stable home are unable to secure stable employment and access to basic resources, such as food, shelter, and healthcare.
  • Strain on Social Services: Homelessness places a significant strain on social services, such as healthcare, child welfare, and justice systems, as individuals without homes often rely on these services to meet their basic needs.

The functionalist perspective suggests that addressing homelessness requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on addressing the root causes of the crisis and creating policies that prioritize affordable housing, employment, and access to social services. Some of the solutions that align with the functionalist perspective include:

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  • Affordable Housing: Developing and implementing affordable housing programs that provide stable housing to individuals and families in need is a critical step in addressing homelessness.
  • Employment and Training Programs: Providing employment and training programs to help individuals, especially those experiencing homelessness build skills and secure stable jobs.
  • Increased Social Service Provision: Investing in social services such as healthcare, mental health, and addiction treatment programs to address the underlying issues that contribute to homelessness.


The functionalist perspective on homelessness offers a valuable lens through which to understand the complex social and systemic factors that contribute to this crisis. By focusing on the root causes of homelessness and prioritizing policies that address housing affordability, employment, and access to social services, communities can work to address this issue comprehensively. While addressing homelessness is a complex and ongoing challenge, understanding the functionalist perspective can help to inform effective solutions and policies for creating lasting change.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Homelessness: The Functionalist Perspective and Potential Solutions. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“Homelessness: The Functionalist Perspective and Potential Solutions.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
Homelessness: The Functionalist Perspective and Potential Solutions. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
Homelessness: The Functionalist Perspective and Potential Solutions [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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