Homelessness is a common and renowned condition where an individual or family does not have a permanent dwelling place. It is often associated with poverty and social inequalities (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). To study homelessness, one has to adequately determine the causes and general background. This paper will review different studies from scholars, and how well they have researched the issue of homelessness. It will further explain the effects of academic knowledge on the society and how these societies affect both local and global societies. Finally, the paper will pass recommendations on how active citizenship would affect the problem of homelessness in the next one decade. Generally, the paper will determine whether academic knowledge is the answer to homelessness in the United States.

Literature Review

Thomson et al (2013) wrote an article, “Substance-Use Disorders and Poverty as Prospective Predictors of First-Time Homelessness in the United States”. They reported that 3.5 million Americans experienced periods of homelessness every year, with at least 75,000 individuals remaining homeless at any given night. Their work examined the different reasons why people get first time homelessness, and record that alcohol, poverty and drug use, all have a significant responsibility to an individual in their first time homelessness. The article is very articulate and effective in its findings and recommendations, showing that the three factors have a direct relationship with homelessness. With a possible vicious cycle of poverty, children who are born in poor families could find themselves languishing in homelessness. They have unequal access to amenities that would help them escape the dragnet of poverty and eventual homelessness.

This article is very articulate in its research and findings. It further shows that there is an interaction between these three factors, making it even more likely that once an individual is sucked into one, they could easily get into the other. A poor person is highly likely to get into substance abuse. The inequalities in the society will possibly increase the level of homelessness if no measures are taken.

Another article, “Twenty-Five Years of Child and Family Homelessness: Where Are We Now?” by Grant et al (2013) explains the disparities that exist in the society, eventually leading to homelessness. The increasing number of homeless families expose children to future homelessness and dire living conditions. The families will have poor health and would be less productive, condemning them to further anguish. The article gives a good insight into the vicious cycle of homelessness in an articulate and succinct way.

In another article, “Homelessness in Chicago: Poverty and pathology social institutions and social change, “ the author, Michael Sosin informs about the potential of homelessness resulting from financial disability. It argues that there every poor person or family has a potential of becoming homeless. This is partially determined by the economical background of an individual. The study looks to determine the different ways that homelessness can be prevented, and relieved, as well as how it could be reversed (Sosin, 1988). The journal article has a focus on Illinois, Chicago. The authors in this article found out that homelessness was not always life-long and could end after some time. It also revealed that there was a relationship between childhood upbringing and homelessness, and loneliness (Sosin, 1988). In this case, the homeless live alone in most cases once they get a residence. The homeless people are also ranked as the people who mostly use social services as compared to other poor people (Sosin, 1988).

This article is very articulate in relating the issues that could lead to homelessness. Poverty is among them. Although not all people who live in poverty are homeless, almost all homeless people are poor. The author uses the knowledge and literature on homelessness to propose policies that would eventually lead to a reversal of the process of homelessness. To end homelessness, it would be vital to carefully determine the causes and eliminate them because such problems are more likely to be eliminated by eliminating their sources, rather than solving the problems themselves.

In January 2014, Amanda Peacher wrote an article in OPB “Homeless And Unemployed, Each Day Is About Waiting”. In the article, she spent a day with a homeless Benson, who usually had only a meal a day. The story is a reflection of the tribulations that homeless people go through. Benson takes a shower only once a week and would sleep anywhere. He had applied to be a writer, a job he was well qualified. As a prologue to the story, Benson was soon employed as a writer a few weeks after the article was published in OPB (Peacher, 2014).

The story of Benson is reminiscent with most homeless people. First, he is jobless and can barely make enough money for himself, let alone his family, which he was separated from (Peacher, 2014). He is also an alcoholic. Despite having credentials from school, he had to endure a cruel livelihood and degradation. On a day that he planned to get a shower, Benson would wake up earlier than usual; say before six, so that he could queue for a bathroom slot by 7 in the morning (Peacher, 2014). He would then go look for a job in a fast food joint where he would work for sometime so that he could get his first and possibly the last meal of his day. Such a schedule would sink someone deeper into poverty and destitution. A lot of time is wasted waiting for a chance and one has no chance of controlling their schedules. Other people decide when the homeless would get certain services, if they were to get them after all. This trend is very limiting and would lead to no progress.

The state of homeless Benson changed several weeks after the OPB team visited him. He had qualified for a writing job and after interviews, he managed to get employment and possibly get himself out of the poverty and dire living conditions. His only escape out of the state that many poor Americans find themselves was helped by his academic qualifications.


Understanding homelessness is easy because it is exhibited easily and openly in the society. Most of the homeless people in the United States are poor and live in dire conditions, most of them relying on social amenities for their lives. They live in a vicious cycle of poverty where they inherit nothing from their parents and eventually have poor upbringing and a very scarce capital bases to jumpstart their lives (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). Despite the expansive campaigns to advocate for equal distribution of resources among the American society, this has not been achieved, as the capitalistic economy continues to flourish, where few people benefit at the expense of the others. Racial inequality is also rife, although it has declined by a large margin since the 1960s.

Inequality leads to lack of provision of important amenities to certain communities (O'Flaherty, 1996). Education is one of the most important amenities that a government can use to empower its people. It not only ensures that people get adequate skills to get well paying employment opportunities, but it increases the integration between different classes of people in the society. This integration contributes to social equality (O'Flaherty, 1996). It also increases the possibility of people getting more opportunities to improve their economic status. Education process is vital in the development of a society (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). Disparity in this sector leads to an inevitable disintegration of the society, since people of different classes retain their way of life and have no chance to change.

Through education, poverty can be reduced through several avenues (Kristen, 2011). First, it increases the self worth of the young scholars from poor backgrounds. It shows them how important they are and how much respect they deserve from even the rich in the society. Secondly, sharing of ideas increases imagination and ability to know how one could succeed despite having poor backgrounds (Kristen, 2011). Through concepts learnt from class work, people can make inventions that improve their livelihoods through patents and execution of such inventions in business models.

Thirdly, it generally enlightens the learner and enables him to demand for better treatment from the government and the society (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). It is only through education that an individual can have a deeper knowledge to their rights and liberties, as well as the opportunities they are entitled to.

Through education, poor children become notable in the society and are allowed senior decision-making positions (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). The ability to break into these positions enables them to be involved in policy-making and development of laws. Since nations and societies are governed through policies and laws, the biggest impact that people could have on poverty is through the creation of laws and policies that aim at excluding undesired living conditions among the people (O'Flaherty, 1996).

This can only be achieved through policy making and executing. Most social and economic changes have been enabled using laws and poverty and homelessness are not exempted (Kate, Baker & Howden-Chapman, 2011). For example, voting for women was enacted through the amendment in the US constitution in 1920. Once a law tailored along the importance of ensuring better living conditions for all Americans irrespective of their economic ability has been passed and enacted it would lead to lowered poverty and homelessness.

Active citizenship is a framework that organizations and agencies use to ensure that the employees take social responsibilities at individual levels, even if they do not hold any managerial positions in their organizations (O'Flaherty, 1996). This concept could be used to reduce the levels of poverty and homelessness in the society. However, the enactment process is slow and uncertain because there is less reprimanding to the employees. Responsibilities are not compulsory and organizations often just advocate for implementation, but they do little to ensure that the employee has actually taken it up and improved the society significantly.

Better enactment of active citizenship could be a solution not only to poverty, but also to many other social problems that have persisted over the years.

Active citizenship can work best to ensure poor people get better lives over the next one decade. The success would be closely guided by the willingness of the people, rather than a compulsory requirement (O'Flaherty, 1996). People would possibly help people they like, which is very effective because it is done from a humanitarian view. Organizations should eventually ensure that they mobilize their employees into helping the poor and upholding the help to ensure continuity. However, the racial disparities that already exist in the government it its service delivery to its people should be eliminated to motivate the rest of the people.


Over the years, education has been hailed as a key developmental attribute to human knowledge and survival (Kristen, 2011). Since the time of old philosophers and scholars like Socrates, they regarded education as a key component to understanding the world and consequently making it a better place to live. Enlightenment leads to change in perception and ability to solve problems.

Through education, people can find better means to survive and solve their social and economic problems. Homelessness is a problem attributed to lack of employment and eventual poverty, but in many cases, people who do not inherit wealth from their parents live decent lives as a result of their accumulated knowledge (Kristen, 2011). A more educated society would lead to better policies and decisions, as well an extensive inclusion of all citizens in nation building. It increases responsibility and sympathy to the people who still are unfortunate, by those who are higher in the society. Eventually, successful people are more and their efforts in active citizenship is easily enacted because they are many and have little duties to improve the livelihoods of the poor.

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