Homelessness and poverty are serious economic conditions battling the society today. These twin evils cannot be separated, as they seem to complement each other. The definition of poverty is a controversial matter. In 1795, it was decided by a group of English officials that a minimum income should be the price of a gallon loaf of baked dough (three portions) and a ration for each dependant(Schorr, 1984). Today, the Census Bureau defines the threshold of poverty in the United States as the minimum amount of money, required by families in order to buy a nutritionally adequate diet, assuming they use one-third of their income for food (Hughes & Kroehler, 2011). Absolute poverty is “the absence of enough money to secure life’s necessities – enough food, shelter and so forth” (Ferrante, 2011). In many third world countries, most people live on $1 a day, which is significantly below the United Nations poverty line. Hunger is said to be the number one killer of people in the world. According to statistics, hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined. There are more than 50 million people reported to be afflicted with poverty in the world. The most affected are women and children. In New Orleans, U.S, for example, when Katrina hit, 28 percent of the population was poor – twice the national rate. Two-thirds of families headed by women in New Orleans were poor, twice the national rate (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). This could be associated with the term “feminization of poverty”, which stems from various reasons, including wage inequality between men and women, alarming rate of female-headed households, teenage pregnancy and single mothers, etc.
The definition of homelessness is the “lack of residence or housing” (Lipton & Sabatini, 1984). A homeless person is usually considered an outcast, unkempt, cut off from family and friends, has little or no prospects, and relies on very few, remote sources of existence. Over 100 million people are homeless. Housing is a basic human amenity, and the statistics on the number of homeless people in the world call for drastic actions.
As the number of poverty-stricken and homeless people in the world continues to grow due to recession and economic meltdown, much has to be done to address the wave of these anti-societal issues; one should increase the awareness and bring up several initiatives to restore hope and self-esteem to the needy and afflicted people in the world.
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