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    K-12 Lesson Plans, Class Activities & Background Information
    For Primary, Elementary, Middle and High School Students and Teachers

    Homelessness Lesson Plans

    Homelessness Background Information


    Homelessness is the condition and social category of people without a regular house or dwelling because they are otherwise unable to acquire, maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country to country, or among different entities or institutions in the same country or region.

    The term homeless may also include people whose primary night-time residence is in a homeless shelter, a warming center, a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing. Government homeless enumeration studies also include persons who sleep or in a public or private place not designed for use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

    Causes of Homelessness

    • Unavailability of employment opportunities.
    • Poverty, caused by many factors including unemployment and underemployment.
    • Lack of accessible healthcare. People who have some kind of chronic and weakening disease but cannot get healthcare either because they don't have money to afford it or because the government will not give it to them are simply too weak to go and work every day so they remain poor and homeless.
    • Abuse by government or by other people with power.
    • War or armed conflict.
    • Mental disorder, where mental health services are unavailable or difficult to access or as a result of deinstitutionalization. A United States Federal survey done in 2005 indicated that at least one-third of homeless men and women have serious psychiatric disorders or problems.
    • Disability, especially where disability services are nonexistent or poor performing.
    • Substance abuse
    • Lack of affordable housing. An article in the November 2007 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported on a study of the cost of obtaining the "right to build" (i.e. a building permit, red tape, bureaucracy, etc.) in different U.S. cities. The "right to build" cost does not include the cost of the land or the cost of constructing the house. The study was conducted by Harvard economists Edward Glaeser and Kristina Tobio. According to the chart accompanying the article, the cost of obtaining the "right to build" adds approximately $600,000 to the cost of each new house that is built in San Francisco.
    • Domestic violence.
    • Relationship breakdown, particularly in relation to young people and their parents.
    • Prison release and re-entry into society.
    • Natural disaster, including but not limited to earthquakes and hurricanes.
    • Forced eviction – In many countries, people lose their homes by government order to make way for newer upscale high rise buildings, roadways, and other governmental needs. The compensation may be minimal, in which case the former occupants cannot find appropriate new housing and become homeless.
    • Mortgage foreclosures where mortgage holders see the best solution to a loan default is to take and sell the house to pay off the debt. The popular press made an issue of this in 2008; the real magnitude of the problem is undocumented.

    Problems faced by people who are homeless

    • personal security, quiet, and privacy, especially for sleeping
    • safekeeping of bedding, clothing and possessions, which may have to be carried at all times
    • hygiene and sanitary facilities
    • cleaning and drying of clothes
    • obtaining, preparing and storing food in quantities
    • keeping contacts, without a permanent location or mailing address
    • hostility and legal powers against urban vagrancy.
    • Reduced access to health care and dental services.
    • Limited access to education.
    • Increased risk of suffering from violence and abuse.
    • General rejection or discrimination from other people.
    • Loss of usual relationships with the mainstream
    • Not being seen as suitable for employment.
    • Reduced access to banking services
    • Reduced access to communications technology

    For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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    Last updated: June 2013
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