Recent reports have shown that hunger and homelessness are on the rise in the United States, and the number of those living in poverty has increased exponentially since the beginning of the financial crisis. This past December, a U.S. Conference of Mayors stated that 86% of U.S. cities surveyed had experienced an increase in requests for emergency food aide during 2011. There was also a 6% increase in homelessness during the same year. The numbers confirm what many have already suspected, that poverty is on the increase in the U.S. Poverty is quickly become an issue that needs to be tackled by presidential candidates before the upcoming elections. However, one would be hard-pressed to find a single statement by either Democratic or Republican candidates about this subject.
The U.S Census Bureau currently claims that 15.1% of the population is living in poverty. This is the highest number in the U.S since 1959, proving that poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately if the number of people living in poverty is not going to continue to increase. These rising numbers are making it apparent that many U.S states will have to develop the infrastructure to deal with the high level of homeless and destitute, especially in urban areas.
Most people who experience homelessness do so on a temporary basis. The idea that “homeless people” remain homeless for many years, perhaps even the remainder of their lives, is a common misconception. With an increase in day-to-day financial difficulties, the number of low-income and single-parent families experiencing homelessness at some point in their life is increasing. Social services are now faced with the challenge of finding ways to get people back into affordable housing after many families have lost their homes to foreclosures.
The National Coalition for the Homeless claims that each year 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness. Of those that are staying in transitional housing 56% are part of families. However, the average stay for a family in a shelter is 70 days, and many are being turned away due to a lack of space in many shelters across the country. The scariest fact of all is that 22% of children in the U.S. are living in poverty. Despite the adverse effects this will have on the future of the nation, no presidential candidate seems to be discussing this very important issue. The homelessness issue, in fact, is one that is being avoided by all presidential candidates altogether.
This could mean one of two things. Either poverty is too difficult of an issue to tackle and neither candidate has a real vision about how to go about this, or neither candidate is aware of the importance in dealing with this issue and instead are too busy brainstorming ideas on how to garner votes by addressing more contentious and newsworthy issues. Either way, poverty and homelessness usually come about unexpectedly when one or more members of the family loose their jobs or fall ill. Becoming homeless, unfortunately, is something that could happen to any working family, and as such should be addressed by those working for the well-being of their constituents.