Homeless Initiatives

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Homelessness Issues and Challenges

Some key issues or types of challenges organizations are tackling related to the homeless include job placement challenges, substance abuse problems, and food and nutritional challenges.

Key Issues or Types of Challenges Organizations are Tackling Related to the Homeless

1. Job Placement Challenges

  • People struggling with homelessness and other issues that often contribute to homelessness usually have a hard time finding steady employment even despite a determination to try.
  • Failure to secure a job, therefore, significantly hampers their efforts in the community to get back into the workforce which subsequently derails their endeavors towards recovering from homelessness and getting back on their feet.
  • In order to tackle the issue or challenge, organizations offer job skills training needed to survive in the harsh conditions faced by the homeless community.
  • They also counsel them on how to present themselves to their own best advantage at an interview with some organizations even employing homeless people and finding them housing.
  • Some organizations also provide a free suit for a job interview for those homeless people with a strong work history, no substance abuse issues and excellent interview skills but still finding it difficult to pass an interview without professional-looking clothing.
  • Additionally, some organizations also offer job search help for homeless people in a local or a particular city or region.
  • Organizations like Chrysalis in Los Angeles teach homeless clients how to talk about the job skills they possess, how to explain gaps in employment to a potential employer and how to work out problems that may come about with co-workers or supervisors should they get hired.
  • Washington state's THRIVE program also carry out such initiatives, including helping with resumes, interviews and job placement.
  • Dress for Success is also a national organization that assists low income women and homeless by giving them free suits for job interviews in order to make them look professionally presentable.

2. Substance Abuse Problems

  • The lives of homeless people, in most cases, usually tends to be characterized by multiple risk factors, which also includes complicated problems that results from the homelessness itself such as the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • This use of alcohol and other drugs by homeless persons subsequently then brings about serious acute and chronic physical disorders.
  • Moreover, homeless individuals can experience inordinately high rates of respiratory ailments, trauma, cardiovascular disease, and diseases directly linked to alcohol and drug use, such as liver diseases and seizure disorders.
  • Homeless individuals with alcohol problems also tend to be undernourished and debilitated and, as a result, have compromised immune systems as well.
  • Intravenous drug use among the homeless also leads to high morbidity and mortality rates especially among those with alcohol and other drug problems. It also increases the chances of infection with HIV and/or AIDS.
  • Some organizations, therefore, offer both help in terms of rehabilitation programs for substance abuse users and alcohol and drug addicts.
  • The Jericho Project in New York City is an example of an organization that provides substance abuse counseling initiatives in order to tackle such problems.
  • Another example of an organization at the forefront is the Indiana's Center for the Homeless which focuses on helping homeless people with substance abuse issues and also helps find them both work and housing.

3. Food and Nutritional Challenges

  • Many homeless persons, as a result of their circumstance, usually eat fewer meals per day, lack food more often, and even if they eat, they are likely to have inadequate diets and poorer nutritional status than housed U.S. population.
  • This, therefore, leads to poor health conditions for the homeless and the subsequent consequences that accompany poor health.
  • In spite of the fact that many homeless people are eligible for food stamps, most do not receive them. Making matters worse is the fact that other public and private agencies providing nutritious food and meals for homeless persons is also usually limited.
  • Some organizations, therefore, provide homeless persons with improved access to food, nutrition, and even make available nutritional educational resources to cater for the needs of the homeless.
  • Charities of Central Colorado and U.S. Food Bank Network are examples of such organizations who have embraced the initiative to tackle food and nutritional deficiency needs among the homeless.

Research Strategy:

To commence our research, we checked through publications that include, but are not limited to, WorkChron, Huff Post, HHS, and TandFOnline among others. The rationale was to try to identify organizations that are specifically centered around addressing the issues encountered by homeless persons, pull out and compile those issues or types of challenges that are the most commonly mentioned among these organizations that have an extensive experience with tackling matters related specifically to the homeless.

We then found out that Chrysalis in Los Angeles, Washington state's THRIVE organization, Dress for Success, The Jericho Project in New York City, Indiana's Center for the Homeless, and Charities of Central Colorado are some of the organizations that are prominent in focusing mainly on tackling problems related to the homeless. Subsequently, we then compiled the challenges that featured most prominently among the organizations that specifically function/operate to address the issues or challenges surrounding the homeless.

Using this research strategy, we then discovered that people struggling with homelessness and other issues that often contribute to homelessness usually have a hard time finding steady employment even despite their own determination to try. Further to this, the failure by the said homeless persons to secure a job, usually led to challenges in trying to get back into the workforce which consequently hampered their endeavors towards recovering from homelessness and getting back on their feet economically.

Digging deeper into our research, we further found out that the lives of homeless people, in most cases, tends to be characterized by multiple risk factors. This is in addition to the problems that result from the homelessness itself such as the use of alcohol and other drugs. And that the use of alcohol and other drugs by homeless persons subsequently then causes serious acute and chronic physical disorders. Moreover, we also discovered that many homeless persons, as a result of their economic circumstances, usually eat fewer meals per day, lack food more often, and even if they eat, they are likely to have inadequate diets and poorer nutritional status than housed U.S. populations.

Armed with this information, we then sought to dig deeper and find out how these issues that we had pulled out were specifically affecting the homeless and what particular efforts were being done by the organizations in tackling the said issues or challenges.
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