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Homelessness is a complex social issue with an abundance of different contributory factors. People can become homeless due to economic hardships, and unfortunate personal issues. The cycle of homelessness can be triggered by a multitude of things such as “job loss or unexpected bills that exceed their income.” Since trying to qualify for a new job or aid program requires things such as home addresses, homeless people are often cheated out of solutions. “To eradicate homelessness, we must demand that our elected officials spend far more resources on housing, poverty and mental health.” When the government decides to help minimize the factors that contribute to homelessness then people will see a decrease in homelessness.
A huge factor that contributes to homelessness is the minimum wage being too low. In America, there is not a single state where a person can afford a one-bedroom apartment while working a full-time job that pays minimum wage. For example, “to rent a one-bedroom FMR apartment, Jane would need to earn $15.50 per hour. This is more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Even the proposed federal minimum wage of $10.10 per hour would be insufficient for Jane to rent an apartment.” Though many people argue that minimum wage is only for beginning workers and it is not meant to be livable unfortunately, we do not live in an economy where people can have the luxury to not need a minimum wage job. Changing the minimum wage to be universally livable would allow more individuals to be able to afford rent.
The lack of affordable housing and minimum wage go hand in hand when it comes homelessness. Every year the number of affordable housing drops significantly. For example, ‘people come out here because they hear great things about Denver, then realize costs are three times higher than back home. They can’t rent a place or buy a place and end up on the streets.’ The gap between increasing rent and stagnant wages has been continues to grow every year. Many people are at risk for housing instability and homelessness because “6.7 million households spent more than 50 percent of their income on rent.”
Lately, gentrification has become a growing epidemic in the homeless community. Gentrification is the method of neighborhood change involving a financial adjustment in a disinvested neighborhood through real estate investment which involves a population change in income level, education level and ethnic composition of residents. The displacement of low-income residents is due to doubling gentrification rates and increasing competition for affordable housing. Because of this low-income residents are not able to find a reasonably priced place to live. With all the obstacles that come with renting an apartment, no wonder why people end up on the streets. Unless we do something to increase the amount of affordable housing, increase minimum wage, and lower the cost of rent, people will not ever be able to afford an apartment.
Homelessness is often perceived as a consequence of one’s own personal failure. Most people believe something like homelessness will never happen to them but, there are people living the nightmare of not having anywhere to call home. Public assistance is decreasing, the amount of homeless people and mental issues are continually increasing. This is why the government needs to use more resources to end homelessness. Americans can help with this epidemic by advocating for homeless people by educating themselves, volunteering at homeless shelters, or even donating old clothes.
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