Homelessness in America Social Program: Public Housing Introduction The issue of homelessness is one that I can relate to all too well. About twenty five years ago I found myself among the homeless. My story is simple, I had no formal education and was working a Job making minimum wage. I couldn't keep up with my rent and other living expenses and was finally evicted from my overpriced apartment. At the time I was on a waiting list for public housing for which there was at least a two year waiting period.
The fact that I was single, with no children did not help me either. For a while I lived on the streets and in shelters, too ashamed to approach what family members I had with my problems knowing that they were struggling as well. Eventually I received emergency housing in a single room only establishment (CROSS) through public assistance and was eventually able to get back on my feet. I then decided that I would change the quality of my life and returned to school for my first undergraduate degree.
However, the truth is even with my higher level of education, I am living one paycheck or one mishap away from being homeless once again. History on Homelessness According to Marjorie McIntosh, (1998), homelessness can be traced as far back as the sass's England following the peasant's revolt. However, modern day homelessness began as a result of economic stresses in society and the reduction of the availability of affordable housing in America.
The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 was also a pre-disposing factor in setting the stage for homelessness in America as many of the mentally ill were released from state psychiatric hospitals and made up a large percentage the homeless population especially in New York I nee mender AT nameless grew In ten s noosing Ana social service cuts increased. Subsequently, public compassion grew and in 1986, five million Americans joined hands across the country to raise money for the homeless programs (May 25, 1986 Hands Across America).
Now, more than 20 years later homelessness is essentially ignored by the mainstream press and the general public while the numbers affected continue to grow. Poverty is a huge contributing factor to the state of homelessness, these two are inevitably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food or health care and the choices that they must make tit their limited resources usually leaves very little to pay rent which represents the greatest part of one's income outlay. According to the 2000 census, 11% of the U.
S population or 31 million people lived in poverty, and the majority of people affected by homelessness were adult males and families headed by single mothers. Economists believe that the consistent variable in America's homeless history is linked to economic performance. They believe that when business cycles turn downward and the economy falters, people get cut off from their livelihood (Tulle, 1992). Every wave of homelessness in the United States has been associated with a negative attitude towards the homeless.
The negativity is usually expressed in legislation such as vagrancy laws, and personal attitudes and is promoted by the dominant culture value which has a distaste for laziness. There is also a relationship between addiction and homelessness. Alcohol and drug abuse rates are high among people who are poor and addicted, and they are at an increased risk of finding themselves homeless. The abuse of alcohol by the homeless began to receive attention following the civil war (Beaumont, 1996) and they received more negative Reese than services.
Following the great depression, homelessness was associated almost exclusively with alcoholic single men found on various skid rows. Services to this population were almost entirely supplied by charities and faith-based programs. In the sass's, as homelessness was increasingly recognized by the public and government, the federal legislation proposed the Homeless Survival Act which offered responses in the areas of emergency, prevention and long term approaches. When it was finally passed as the McKinley Homeless Assistance Act; only the emergency component was implemented.
Subsequently, legislation authorized the creation of programs that remain the foundation of this country national response to homelessness and are established in distinct departments of the executive branch, each with its own regulations, grant programs and recipient organizations (Summer, 2002). Holster AT Puddle Housing The primary purpose of public housing was to reduce housing costs and to improve housing quality for low-income households by providing decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.
Initially, most of the apartments were occupied by two-parent low-income irking class families. However, by the sass's families of color became overrepresented in these apartments, federal funds dwindled, and the white flight began (Blab, 2007). Other goals included promoting residential construction, expanding housing opportunities for disadvantaged groups, groups with special needs promoting neighborhood revitalization, increasing home owner ship, and empowering the poor to become self-sufficient (Dollops, 2002).
Public Housing is a program that was introduced by the federal government as a part of the 1937 Housing Act which was built on the National Housing Act of 1934, which created the Federal Housing Administration. It was designed to provide public financing of low- cost housing in the form of publicly- managed and owned multi-family developments. New York City had started to provide publicly funded housing before the act was created and was one of the programs that the government used as a model.
According to Banyan, (1987)public housing was not originally created to help the "poorest of the poor," it was created to house select segments of the working class, specifically the "submerged middle class," who were temporarily outside the labor market during the depression. These benefits were targeted to whites and helped move them to suburbs but kept blacks concentrated in cities and inner suburbs. The distribution of federal benefits made it possible for mostly white working-class people to move out of public housing, and contributed to a downward income shift in the public housing population after the sass's.
These discriminatory practices were documented by (Massey & Denton, 1993). At one time, public housing had been thought of as a solution for inner city poverty, isolation, and as a basic human necessity for less well-off people (Iris 1890; Marcus Bibb (1978); Statesman 1990). It was believed by most advocates, that good housing was humane and necessary to the well-being of all people and would greatly improve the quality of life of the people who lived in slums. They envisioned public housing as a way of fulfilling part of the states responsibility to ensure that decent, affordable housing was available for all residents of the U.
S. The first national housing legislation was passed in 1937 after a long struggle in congress. Beyond providing low-cost housing, the other purpose behind the original 1937 legislation was to improve the lagging economy by providing Jobs in the building industry. Public housing was never designed to serve as long-term permanent housing for the poor. Its explicit purpose according to ten Housing Act was to "alleviate present Ana recurring unemployment and to remedy the unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions and the acute shortage of decent, safe and sanitary living conditions for families of low income. " (United State 1937).
The act also provided for slum clearance and provision of replacement low-rent housing. This program was not meaner tested and the only directive for income screening of tenants was that their income could not be higher than five mimes the cost of the rental unit; however, if the family had three or more children then it was six times the rental cost of the unit. In the sass's and sass's, income limits had the effect of penalizing residents for upward mobility. Families could be evicted if their income surpassed an upper limit. In an amended form, President Harry Truman presented The Housing Act of 1949 as part of the "Fair Deal".
This introduced subsidized housing programs other than public housing, and included a housing priority for very low-income people, income limits, and maximum rents (United States 1949; Brat 1986). This act benefited business interests by limiting the program to the very poor and leaving the working class to be housed by private builders. In the late sass's further incentives were introduced to encourage the involvement of private developers and real estate interests in the development of low cost housing in the form of public financing of private subsidized housing developments (U.
S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) HAD programs, which gave private developers tax breaks, low cost mortgages, and rent subsidies to house the poor. (Atlas & Drier 1992). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contributed to the movement of whites out of the projects when they became racially integrated by legally ending discrimination. However, racial segregation in public housing, perpetuated by site selection strategies was the norm and reflected the larger pattern of residential segregation in the U. S.
Projects were often designed to be race specific and more often were designated for whites than for blacks (Brattiest; Neuromuscular; Massey & Denton 1993). In 1981, rent ceilings were eliminated, which made public housing even less attractive to higher income residents. Rent ceilings ere reintroduced in 1987, but federal preferences for tenants were also implemented (Feints, Merrill et al. 1994). This continued a trend of less control by the public housing authorities and a shift in the public housing population to a more disadvantaged segment of society.
Financing Public housing has always been faced with financial difficulties and because of funding limitations, only one in four households that are eligible for public housing receives any form of federal housing assistance. According to Hays (1995) and a more recent source The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2010), the federal overspent provides three primary funding streams to support public housing: "Puddle noosing operating Tuna I Nils Tuna Is Antennae to cover ten gap Detente ten rents paid and the developments operating costs.
In recent years however the federal government has failed to provide enough funding to fill this gap, so agencies have received a "prorated " percentage of the funding that they are eligible for. The persistent funding shortfalls in recent years have forced some agencies to take more painful measures, such as charging tenants more for utilities or by cutting back on radical services such as maintenance or security'. "Public Housing Capitol Fund: This fund supports renovation of public housing buildings and replacement of aging appliances and systems.
Congress has cut the capitol fund sharply in recent years, and agencies receive less than the estimated cost of covering the new capitol needs that accumulate each year, let alone the cost of addressing the sizeable backlog of existing capitol needs". "HOPE VI: This program provides competitive grants to support revitalization of severely distressed public housing, where physical and social conditions are particularly poor. HOPE VI funds can be used for rehabilitation, and demolition. Instruction of replacement housing acquisition of land, social services for residents who were displaced, and families who move into the completed development. HOPE VI has played a major role in the changes in public housing since the sass's, however, congress has cut it's funding in recent years. " In addition to these three main funding streams, some agencies receive supplemental resources from states or localities, or from other federal programs. One major source of supplemental federal funds is the low-income Housing Tax Credit, which supports velveteen and rehabilitation of affordable housing.
The practice of blending both homeless specific and broad assistance programs resources began several years ago and the broader resources are mainstream programs that cover programs that help those who are low-income or disable with cash assistance, health coverage, training, and education (Feints, Merrill et al. 1994). From the start, congress funded fewer units than were authorized beginning with the first act. The 1937 Act funded only capital costs and expected that most operational and maintenance costs would be covered by the rental income.
Though operating subsidies were not explicitly excluded (Shill 1991), Often times, excess rent was applied to debt payment and maintenance needs were neglected. Congress attributed rising costs in public housing to management problems, although in the sass's and sass's, high inflation, increasing expenses and aging buildings contributed to higher maintenance costs. Rising rents and reduction of services led to a series of rent strikes in the sass's and eventually culminated in the passage of the Brooke Amendment to the 1969 Housing Act (Hays 1995).
In 1971 the Brooke Amendment capped public housing rent at 25 % f income and provided for operating subsidies to the housing authorities to pay for the shortfalls and deficits (Brattiest, Hays 1995). Eventually, the operating subsidies that were designed to fill the gap between rents and expenses were tied to performances. The low-performing housing authorities continued to struggle and a lagging economy forestalled repairs and modernization efforts (Banyan, 2000). The new funding did not cover the losses caused by Brooke after figuring in inflation.
During the sass's, rents covered only 79% of operating costs down from 97% in the early part of the decade (Feints, Merrill et al. 994). Since 1981 there has been no large scale funding for new public housing at the federal level, although congress did pay TOT ten outs tanning EOT on puddle noosing aurally ten 2003, ten Dull AT the federal housing dollars are used for tenant based housing vouchers, formerly Section Eight, now called "Housing Choice Vouchers" where the recipient pays 30% of their income towards rent and the voucher covers the rest.
The demand for affordable housing has not diminished and public housing in all of its forms has not satisfied it. The budgets of the funding streams for affordable housing have minimized over time. As social workers, we have to be concerned about affordable housing primarily because many of our clients are either already homeless or are just a situation away from being homeless. This is a concern for us especially for those clients struggling with mental illness, addictions, and persistent poverty.
According to The National Coalition for the Homeless (2009), it reports that approximately 3. 5 million people are homeless and 1. 35 million of them are children. According to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, nearly one in three American households currently spend more than 30% of income on housing, and more than one in eight spend upwards of 50%. Approximately 2. 5 million households live in crowded or structurally inadequate housing units.
In the sass's the response to homelessness was often done by individual community based programs of which many were faith-based and, they coordinated informally with providers. It is apparent that individual actions by providers may be very inspiring, however it is a strategy of limited success and the only way to prevail in the war against namelessness is for the government, legislation, policy and financial resources to remain at the forefront in order to solve this crisis.
Vive learned from this course that as social workers, we have along standing tradition of concern about individuals' most basic needs, including housing. One of the profession's basic trademarks is its concern with individual well-being and related public policy issues. Social workers must be concerned about the basic housing and shelter needs of individual clients. At the same time, however, social workers must be engaged actively in the advocacy, ND policy formation that are so essential to providing safe and affordable housing.
Knowledge, skills and values learned I have actually learned a lot from this course so far. The first thing that I have learned is that a fundamental to social work is to pay attention to the environmental forces that create and contribute to problems in living. I learned that social welfare policy is the principles and framework for the action that the government chooses to adopt in order to ensure its citizens well-being. I also learned that many times these policies are not always for the good of the people it was designed to serve, and that any policies are designed to fail.
Although the economic function of a social welfare policy is to regulate the relationship of the people to the economy, and to provide a minimum level of economic security, the truth is if they worked properly there would be a more equalized distribution of wealth and power, rather than the maintenance of the current status quo. According to Blab (2007) radicals link the economic functions of social welfare policy directly to business profits, and they conclude that social welfare policy operates to sedulously ten costs AT pro T tattled economic reduction for business and industry.
I learned that the political function of social welfare policy is to address the need to reduce social conflict (Blab 2007). However, since societal conflict comes from the disparity in wealth and power, it is clear that the political function of social welfare policies are at odds with meeting the need of the underrepresented, and the oppressed, so conflict remains. I learned about the differences between a residual and intentional welfare state, and about the various types of welfare programs that serve the needy. I also learned that some believe that lifer is a form of control and that those in power need a docile working.
I have also learned about many social welfare programs, and who they are designed to serve effectively. I learned that as social workers it is our duty to try to shape public policy by educating, advocating and monopolizing interest groups. I have learned that social workers are governed by a professional code of ethics that guides us on advocating for social Justice, change, equality, human rights, and the well-being of all people who are disadvantaged, poor, vulnerable, and oppressed. Our role as social workers is to alp these individuals function more effectively and to help them solve problems and issues in their everyday lives.
Subsequently, I am committed to help create a more just society where all individuals are treated with respect and equality. All people have basic human needs and should be given the chance to live decent and fulfilling lives. As social workers we need to ensure that the people that we serve have equal access to services, resources, and programs that will improve the quality of their lives. It is our responsibility as social workers to ensure that our clients have their deeds met so that they can be self-sufficient and develop to their fullest potential.