Type: Exploratory
Pages: 5 | Words: 1211
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The homeless person is considered to be the one who has not a constant dwelling, or who does not lead a settled way of life (Gadd, 1997). Homelessness for many people is associated not only with the lack of house belonging to a specific person but with the features of accommodation of such a person that form his/her social status. Nowadays, the homeless people are extremely non-uniform. They do not correspond to a traditional stereotype of a lonely alcoholic of average years any more. Among the homeless people are men, women and young people who escaped from their house. Some of them have chronic diseases, including mental diseases, alcoholism, drug addiction and glue sniffing. Most of these people are enduring a deep personal crisis suffering from the adverse economic conditions. Men prevail among lonely homeless people (Fisher, & Schapiro, 1986). Their professional skills are limited, and they have no relatives supporting them. Few of them are married. They are rather young and have no means for living at all. The homeless people are very diverse, but they are united by the general need for constant affordable housing. The housing is the main problem for the homeless people.

The reasons of becoming homeless are various, and all of them can be divided into subjective and objective. As for the subjective reasons, it is possible to refer genetic and biological features of some people, their tendency to vagrancy, and unwillingness to work. These people are potential bums, and under certain conditions, they become tramps and beggars.

The Objective Reasons of Becoming Homeless

Among the objective reasons there is an aggravation of the economic situation (production stagnation, inflation, falling of a living standard) and political instability.

At a more concrete level, it is possible to allocate the following reasons of the homelessness:

1. Natural and social disasters such as earthquakes, floods, ethnic conflicts, etc.

2. Economic instability (unemployment, low income, shortage of cheap housing and so on).

3. Most part of the homeless people consists of the former prisoners who cannot get a job and housing.

4. Victims of criminal frauds with housing. There are many ailing old men who were forced to sell their apartments because of different circumstances, and now they are compelled to wander.

5. Family disorders or violence in a family, which caused people to leave their houses.

6. A so called “natural” layer, which includes alcoholics, addicts and insane people.

7. A personal choice.

The homeless people estimate the reasons of their situation in the following way: “homeless partly because of some circumstances and partly because of the weak will – 42 %”; “homeless because of the weak will –  31,5 %”; “homeless because of insuperable circumstances – 25,5 %”.

The Subjective Reasons of Becoming Homeless

Under the city conditions, the main occupations of the homeless people are begging, collecting and selling of bottles, unloading of cars, cleaning of commercial tents, cars, etc. Elderly men and women and disabled people are engaged in begging, as a rule; those who have small children count on a handout. It is also necessary to note that the homeless environment consists generally of men. Women make only 10-15 % of the homeless people. The homeless women live mostly at the expense of prostitution. The family budget of the homeless people is absent.

Homelessness often leads to the stress, mental disorders and abuse of psychoactive substances; an abuse of alcohol is the most widespread. Incidence of tuberculosis among the homeless people is at least in 25 times higher than among the whole population. There are also a lot of AIDS victims among the homeless people, who have a risk to catch this disease more than in 10 times in comparison with the urban population as a whole. Besides, the homeless people, as a rule, cannot get an adequate medical care or an access to treatment. Free or preferential medical care programs, as well as other programs of the social help, are often unattainable for the homeless people.

Children are most subjected to the adverse effects of homelessness. The number of homeless children grows quicker than any other segment of the homeless population. About 750 thousand of the school age children are homeless, and the majority of them suffer from physical, psychological and emotional violations. Approximately half of the surveyed homeless children have symptoms demanding a psychiatric intervention. They can have a kind of a physical development delay. These children do not have an appropriate care; they are subjected to infectious diseases owing to malnutrition, lack of vitamins and minerals, insanitary conditions and the absence of immunization.

Various behavioral problems, including violations of dream, attention, speech, impellent coordination, aggression, shyness, dependence and lack of neatness were found in the homeless children from 3 to 5 years old. The senior homeless children are convinced that there is a danger to their future, and they are “drained in” hopelessly by poverty (Breakey, & Fisher, 1990). Thus, poverty and homelessness can become self-executed prophecies passing from one generation to another.

The connection between the homeless parents and children weakens as the parents in such a situation cease to play a role of the tutors and supporters. The probability of the child abuse increases in a situation when the frustrations caused by the conditions of the homelessness exceed the level of the parental self-checking.

A lot of homeless children miss lessons, have a low educational progress, read badly, are almost illiterate and do not know even simple mathematics.

Every year, about 1,5 million of teenagers at the age from 10 till 17 years old appear to be homeless. There are even the homeless children who have run away from their houses and the thrown children and orphan children who have run away from children’s shelters and houses. Often they are teenagers from underprivileged families in which they were exposed to a physical and sexual abuse.

The problems with health, an abuse of psychoactive substances as well as chaotic sexual relationships are very widespread among the homeless teenagers, making them vulnerable by hepatitis and AIDS. About 60 thousand of teenagers are infected with HIV. The key factor concerning homeless teenagers is the lack of support and normal relations in a family. Many of homeless teenagers have a depression and are subjected to a suicide.

Homeless people can suffer from excessive stresses and psychological traumas. The symptom of the psychological trauma is a social exclusion (anomy) and a rupture of the relations with social institutes. Homelessness leads to a loss of trust to the other people and isolation.

The homeless people who suffered a trauma understand that they are unable to supervise their life, and that they should be dependable on the others to satisfy their base requirements. Some of the homeless people report that they were exposed to violence in their childhood. Many of them show cruelty in relation to their own children.


Thus, it is possible to draw a conclusion that until there are homeless people, the society should provide them with temporary shelters, food, beds and the hygiene accommodations. Unfortunately, a number of temporary shelters do not solve a problem of homelessness.

A certain role concerning the problems of the homeless people is allocated for social workers. They render a direct help to these people and act as advisers who deal with unsuccessful people. They are urged to promote positive changes and protection of the population in this sphere of the social help.

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