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SOC 455: Homelessness (Essay Sample)


Paper #1



For this assignment, we will address a large scale social problem in the U.S. homelessness. 



The Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles




APA format

6 pages of text, plus a references page

12 pt Times New Roman font



There are two kinds of research required for this paper. 

  1. The first is traditional library research of scholarly sources and analysis of homelessness. 
  2. The second is local community research. 


Most of us in the class live in areas where homelessness exists to one degree or another.  Begin working on this paper by finding out what you can about the extent of homelessness in your area and the problems and possible solutions associated with it.  A topic search on “homeless” in local newspaper(s) is a good way to begin.  Find an organization in your area that works to reduce homelessness, and/or to provide assistance to homeless people.  These may be nonprofit organizations, city or county programs, church-related programs, or other kinds of outreach or public service groups.  Choose one program to use as an example in your paper.  To gather information about the organization, there are several possibilities:  an personal visit, the organization’s website if they have one, or local news coverage, for example.



Chapter 1 on the Sociological Approach to Social Problems introduces you to two concepts you will need for this paper. 

The first is a Sociological Imagination

The second is the idea of a “Person-Blame Approach” to understanding Social Problems as contrasted with a “Systems-Blame Approach.”  

In your community, where do you find evidence of a person-blame approach and evidence of a systems-blame approach?  These are always at odds in one way or another, and the conflict between them is one reason social problems persist. 


What are one or two things you think would make the most difference in your community in reducing homelessness?  What are the most important one or two things we might do nationally to reduce homelessness?  Remember to keep your analysis framed within what we are studying this month. 


Use the attached PowerPoints as references in your paper.


SOC 455: Homelessness
SOC 455: Homelessness
In this thriving world, increasing number of people are becoming homeless at an alarming rate; homelessness has been an increasing issue in the United States. In the US, hundreds of homeless people live on streets as their permanent shelter. A homeless person is anyone who lacks shelter, resources or estimated community ties; a total of 650,000 people are homeless in America including minors (Hastings, 1979). Many factors contribute to homelessness ranging from social, economic, environmental factors and population pressure. Research shows that countries vary in term of their levels of material conditions; some nations are well off having adequate resources while others are poor (Hastings, 1979).
Sociological Approach to Social Problems
The root cause of homelessness is attributed to the growing population. Globally, it is estimated that by 2050, the world population will reach 9 billion (Collins, 1996). 99 percent of the population growth occurs mainly in the less developed nations. Therefore, the greater the proportion of a population living in poverty, the higher the fertility rate would be. As a result, basic resources like housing are overstretched. For instance, there are five cities in the developing world with a population of 20 million; they can no longer handle their numbers into terms of housing, employment and the required social amenities (Collins, 1996). Most of their resources like food, medical services are strained because of poverty, meaning most people are not able to afford decent housing. According to the World Bank, poverty is living on less than $ 1.25 per day (Frey, Mosely, & Yeasting, 2001). Across the world, a total of 1.4 billion people are below the line of poverty mostly concentrated in the Sub-Sahara Africa. It is ironic that agriculture produces enough food to feed the global population. However, 9 million people are still reported to die of malnutrition each year. The increasing levels of malnourishment results to high infant mortality rates reducing life expectancy. Extreme poverty is the main cause of several social problems including homeliness especially in the US (Frey, Mosely & Yeasting, 2001). 
Factors Contributing To Homelessness in the US
Wealth and Power: The Bias of the System
Due to the increased tax benefits for the wealthy and changing job structure in the US, the major shift from manufacturing to service has resulted to the export of US jobs. The US political system is another contributing factor to homelessness. The wealthy are more linked with power as the government is ruled by the few rich people. The government interest is on the rich making America to be termed as a plutocracy government. The American government can be termed as an interest group government; this is because certain groups hire a lobbyist to persuade legislators to always vote their way that does not focus of social problems like homelessness (Best, 2001). 
Lobbying has become a billion businesses in America, violating the principles of democracy. Most campaigns are undemocratic resulting to unfair access to politicians. The elites want to control power as they take advantage of the constitution that guarantees unlimited spending in political campaigns. They use money to either elect or defeat political candidates depending on their own interest (David & Kertzer, 2009). The interest of the powerful people in America is served more than the poor. Billions are spent in every America election campaigns that sabotage democracy making it harder, every term, to solve the ever-growing social problems such as homelessness. The political elites ensure that the have nots have no say or are not represented in any decision making process; instead the elected legislators become part ...
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