Affordable housing epidemic increased homelessness

Homeless man
Affordable housing epidemic increased homelessness

Homelessness H
ousing Epidemic

The United States of America's social welfare system is ever-evolving due in part to changes in social and economic conditions.  The social welfare system was designed to safeguard citizens against poverty and the harsh economic conditions of that period. But, as we all know," every rose has its thorns."

Many believe that social and economic inequality is the primary root cause of economic disenfranchisement and that deficiencies and bias exist during the distribution and redistribution of resources and opportunities.

The American government has made strides toward leveling the playing field to promote equality; however, we still have a distance to travel before we reach a utopia. 

Social Welfare Programs

When people think of welfare, they have a tendency to think of social welfare programs, such as the supplemental nutrition assistance food program or the Food and Nutrition ACT of 2008 (S.N.A.P.), previously known as the Food Stamp Act of 1977(Food Stamps), The US. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 housing voucher program, the Social Security administration's Social Security supplemental income, pell grants, work-study, Medicaid, direct student subsidized loans, and temporary assistance for needy families, which are all means-tested. 

However, rarely do constituents consider what many have come to know and refer to as corporate welfare, for example, agriculture subsidies, oh, no! 

Lets us not forget the Auto Industry bailout of 2008, agriculture subsidies, bank bailouts, and interest-free loans from the federal reserve. Many people, due to their tax bracket, can get little to no relief when experiencing financial hardship, no S.N.A.P., and no bailout.   

Before I continue, let me say that I believe that everyone needs help from time to time and that people should be treated with dignity and respect while receiving services or support, so whether it's emotional support, financial assistance, or a ride to your local store, be empathetic towards others. 

In a poem written by John Donne, he states,
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." 

So, why does welfare has a negative connotation?

A popular belief is that the word welfare along with terms; such as liberal developed a negative connotation as a result of racism, negative media attention which dramatizes and over-represented blacks amongst the poor, and welfare recipients.  

Being a black American became synonymous with being a welfare recipient and welfare fraud. Words like liberal, liberalism and social welfare once had a positive connotation but now were demonized. Liberals became viewed as black sympathizers. 

According to,  
" of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism, especially the freedom of individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties," (; para.3). liberalism according to Merriam Webster," a political philosophy based on a belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy...of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties." (Merriam Webster; para.c).

Population-based on the demographics of race: According to the U.S. Census Bureau

1)  76.5% of the U.S. population consists of whites.
2)  13.4 % of the U.S. population consists of African descent Americans.
3)  1.3% of the U.S. population comprises American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
4)  5.9% of the U.S. population consists of Asians.
5)  0.2% of the U.S. population consists of Native Hawaiian and other specific islanders.
6)  18.3% of the U.S. population consists of Hispanic or Latinos.
7)  2.7% of the U.S. population consists of two or more races.
8)  60.4% of the U.S. population consists of whites, not Latino or Hispanic descent.
African Americans represent 13.4 % of the U.S. population

Americans of African descent are over-represented among the homeless in America.  The rate of homelessness of African descent in America is estimated to be at or around 40%. African descent represents only 13.4% of the total population in the U.S. Disparities of African descent exist across a range of social macrosystems and microsystems. 

There are over representations of Americans of African descent in the criminal justice system, in poverty, and African descent receiving poor treatment in health care settings despite having health insurance. 

Whites and Asian members of the population are under-represented in the homeless population.

The Hispanic population is estimated to be at or around 18.3%. However, Hispanics make up about 21 percent of the homeless. Specific islanders, Hawaiian, and other minority groups represent 5% of the total population expressed a share of the homeless is twice as much.

Minorities and individuals who live in communities of low social and economic standing are at greater risk of becoming homeless. Historically, poverty-stricken communities have been poorly equipped to educate students due to limited resources than school districts in more affluent communities, fewer job opportunities, and social inequalities. 

Americans of African descent are more likely to be overcharged for rent and mortgages and show fewer homes while searching for dwellings than whites.

Security And Shelter 

The human need for security and shelter is a driving force behind the acquisition of suitable and affordable housing. Many people in the United States are on the cusp of being homeless. Homeownership is one of the most expensive endeavors an individual or family can pursue.

For the none homeowner, rent often consumes more than 30% of one's income, more than the recommended amount suggested to be allocated towards rent.  Rent, for many, is their largest monthly expense. 
Homeless person
People have a basic need for security and shelter

The general rule of thumb of housing expenditure, according to Mary Schwartz and Ellen Wilson, US Census Bureau authors of,
" Who Can Afford To Live in a Home?: A look at data from the 2006 American Community Survey." writes," 

The conventional 30 percent of household income that a household can devote to housing costs before the household is said to be “burdened” evolved from the United States National Housing Act of 1937. ,"  

According to these guidelines, no more than 30 % of your monthly gross income should be allocated toward housing. If you rent, that includes monthly utilities, and if you are a homeowner, that includes homeowner's insurance and other expenses associated with homeownership.

Affordable and adequate housing is disappearing into the backdrop of contemporary America, and being replaced with tent cities and shantytowns. Sometimes I can't help but think to myself, are we moving forward or backward in time, spiraling out of control and regressing to the times of sharecropping and Poorhouses (Almshouse).

So how can people continue to meet the demands of the housing market when mortgage and rent are increasing faster than wages? 

A minimum wage worker who averages forty hours weekly with no other source of income is most likely burden by the excessive coast of rent.  As a result of social inequalities, the elderly and other vulnerable members of society, minorities, and single parents are more likely to have low-incomes and are burden with the high cost of attaining adequate and affordable housing. 

Having two jobs has become commonplace in America, and some people work three jobs to make ends meet. People are forced to return to work after retiring because health care is so expensive the fact of the matter is individuals are paying on mortgages and student loans well into their sixties. 

Minimum Wages

Minimum Wages: The Fair Labor Standards Act set the standard for federal minimum wages. However, many states have set their own minimum wage rate. The federal minimum wage rate is currently $7.25 for covered nonexempt workers.

Florida's minimum wage is set at a whopping $8.56 which will take effect 1/01/2020 an increase of 1.12%  a whole 10 cents from last year's 8.46; at least is a step in the right direction. 

States like South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and New Hampshire choose to roll with the feds on this one; shame, shame, we know your names. So, who can afford a home at these wages?  And, to boot, population growth is outpacing available housing. 

There exists an affordable housing issue in America, and homelessness is running rampant throughout the country.  Researchers suspect the following culprits may be contributing factors to the increase in the number of homeless.

Contributing factors that may lead to homelessness:

  1. Lack of affordable housing
  2. Mental illness
  3. Alcohol and Drug abuse
  4. Poverty
  5. Unemployment or underemployment
  6. Inequality
  7. Preexisting criminal records.
Contributing factors to homelessness

Being homeless may lead to the following conditions.

  1. Prostitution and other illegal activities.
  2. Alcohol and Drug abuse
  3. Incarceration
  4. Mental illness, and increased symptoms of mental illness.
  5. Stress-related disorders.
  6. An increased crime rate.

Domino Effect

Homelessness and poverty transcend racial and ethnic boundaries. As minimum wages increase, the prices of goods and services also increase. Therefore, there exists a positive correlation between an increased minimum wage and increased prices for goods and services.  Increased wages would cause a domino effect. Stores would raise their prices to make up for labor costs or lay off workers to cut business costs.

The current minimum wage is based on the consumer price index. Indexing minimum wages ensure worker that prices for services and goods stay within reasonable price ranges.  

So, how can we combat Homelessness and poverty?

Research reviles that there exists a correlation between homelessness, poverty, mental illness, stress-related illness, and crime. As homelessness and poverty increase, so do the crime, mental illness, and stress-related illnesses.

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development

There is a bright ray of hope. The federal government's housing choice voucher program is provided through the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. The federal housing voucher program is managed by your local housing authority. The program has been successful in assisting low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly the obtaining and maintaining affordable housing.  Although programs like section eight and habitat for humanity exist to reduce homelessness, the number of homeless is steadily increasing.

Everyone needs help from time to time and should be treated with dignity and respect while receiving services or support. So, be empathetic toward others, whether it's emotional support, financial assistance, or a ride to your local store. In a poem written by John Donne, he states,
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."  

Our lives are intertwined and often intersect with one another. We are connected to the environment, plants, and the cosmos. If humanity does not help itself, then who will? Assist others when you can, and It costs nothing to give an encouraging word to someone.

Families, communities, local, state, and federal governments aid and assist people during times of need, and I believe that is a good thing. It's wrong to browbeat others when they're at a low, so let's uplift one another.


Henry et al. (Dec. 2018) Annual Homeless Assessment Report(AHAR) to congress. Hud Exchange, para 1-10. Retrieve Jan 28,2020, from AHAR-Part-1.pdf
U.S. Census Bureau (July 1, 2019). U.S Census Bureau Quick Facts United States
liberal. (n.d.) Retrieved

Author: Gregory M. Green

Author: Gregory M. Green is the author of various topics in the Social Sciences section of Inveigle MagazineHe writes on informative topics that bring awareness to the world. We are so pleased to have him as a part of Inveigle Magazine's Team. Follow us @Inveiglemagazi1. Follow me on LinkedIn. 

Want to see more trending content like this? 
You definitely 
don't want to miss any of our popular and informative articles, so sign up now for our Newsletter.

Inveigle Magazine

Previous Post Next Post