Homeless Boston Housing

Essay add: 23-03-2016, 14:02   /   Views: 5

The problem of homelessness in Boston an in the US in general has now persisted for decades and it is still growing. The problem has been there for a long time now and it appears like there is no solution that is in the sight. Winters have become nightmare for most of the homeless in Boston. Many people spend most of their lives outside the cold which has a detrimental effect on their health. It has been shown that about a third of Americans are working of becoming homes as more and more people are taking their relatives to live with them in their homes. Despite this, many American feels that the government is not been doing enough in order to address the issue of homelessness in Boston and other states in the United States in general. The homeless live in the streets or in emergency shelters. (Biachi, 2006)

Statistics on homelessness in Boston

Recent figures that have been released from the department of housing reveal that there has been a decline in the number of chronically homeless people in the United States. A study that was carried out by Nation Law Centre on Homelessness and Poverty in 2004 revealed that approximately 3.5 million people with the children making up 1.35 million are likely to experience homelessness once in a year. This reflects that even without looking at the actual statistics of homelessness in the country, many people are prone to the problem than the actual statistics can represent. (Boston Rescue Mission, 2008)

A recent national survey released in 2008 reveal that 20,074 people in the nation are homeless. However this is just the figure that was involved in the survey and the actual figure of homeless people is estimated to be higher than that. Of those interview 76 percent were males while 24 percent were females. It was also revealed that 69 percent of the homeless people are local residents. 30 percent of the males and 21 percent of the females are involved in some kind of long term rehabilitation. According to age, it was revealed that majority of those who are homeless lies at the age of 36-45 at 30 percent followed by a 25 percent margin aged between 46 and 65. 12 percent were under 18 years with 11percent aged 18-25 where 19 percent were aged 26-35. Those aged above 65 percent were only 3 percent. (Boston Rescue Mission, 2008)

Studies reveal that the rate of homelessness has continued to take toll in Boston. This can be illustrated by the following data which compares the figures for homeless in 1995 and 2005.

Adopted from: Boston Rescue Mission - Greater Boston Census Winter 2006 - 2007.Available at http://www.brm.org/index.aspx?sec_id=10&page_id=155&page_url=

The above data shows that the problem of homelessness has continued to rise and it will get worse if no measures are taken.

What are the causes of homelessness in Boston?

There are varied causes of homelessness in Boston which depend on many individual factors. Studies that have been carried out in Boston reveal that the leading problem leading to homelessness is financial constrain in that many people cannot afford to rent houses. Many of those people who are homeless affirm that they don't make enough money to enable them to rent a room or pay for mortgages. As a result many of them have resulted to sleeping in the verandas. The other cause of homelessness has been identified in the housing factor. This occurs in a variety of ways. For example some people find that they are not able to renew their tenancy once it has ended. In other cases some people are not able to raise enough mortgage charges and their houses are sold while others find that they are living in unsuitable houses. Most people prefer to go and spend their life in the street rather than spend their life in leaking roofs. Financial constrain including debt and rent arrears are the leading factors that make most of the people to be thrown out of their homes. This can be caused by loss of job or demotion which affects the financial flow of the person. Financial problems combined with housing factors as discussed above contribute to majority of the homeless in Boston. (Byrne and Shea, 2002)

The second leading factor to homelessness is problems with people living in the same neighborhood. It has been shown that most of the people who live in the cold may have ended there after they found it difficult to cope with the people who they lived with in the same house or who were living around their home. In most instances they prefer to go out and live alone and sometimes they may find it difficult to pay their rents if they were living in house where they paid less amount of rent or in case they made arrangement to pay the house rent. Most of them end up in the street. Some of them have been found to social constrain in terms of their personal behavior and relationships which make it difficult for them to get along with others. (Byrne and Shea, 2002)

The issue of being taken in by a relative also comes out very strongly as one of the leading factor of homelessness in Boston. It happens that some people are immigrant to Boston taken in by their relatives. When their relatives refuses to take them in, they result to living in streets as they have nowhere else to go and some of them cannot raise financial support on their own. But his contributes to very small percentage of homelessness in Boston.

The other problem that is a major cause of homelessness in Boston is breakdown of marital arrangement or cohabitant relationship. A breakdown of a marital arrangement or a cohabitating relationship leaves one or both of the partners financially incapable of renting a home especially in a case where both partners were depending on each other. This has been shown to be third leading factor causing homelessness in Boston. In this regards it has been shown that this mostly affects the female partners in the relationship since they are the one who most of the time relies on the male partners for housing arrangement. (Byrne and Shea, 2002)

Among the elderly homelessness, it has been found that healthy and mental health was one of the leading factors that led to their homelessness. Physical and mental health sometimes makes these senile community members difficult to live with others and hence most of them opt to live in the street. Major health problems that have been reported include heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, mobility problems, dementia, and others. Income and housing issues have also contributed to elderly homelessness. (Byrne and Shea, 2002)

However, housing issue affects all persons of all ages alike. It has been found that difficulty in obtaining housing subsidies has been one of the problems leading to homelessness. Housing subsides are not regarded as entitlement and it is only a small percentage of the population that can access them. most of those living in the street shows that they don't receive housing subsidies and the provision of section 8 clearly shows that one cannot apply for the subside unless one is homeless. Hence individuals are encouraged to become homeless in order to apply for the subsidies. (Byrne and Shea, 2002)

What is being done on the issue of homelessness?

There have been efforts by the government and from other bodies in a bid to address the problem of homelessness in Boston. The Government put aside $100 million in 2006 to address the issue. It order to address the issue the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Emergency Shelter Commission has partner with the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation and other groups in the Boston Homeless Prevention Clearing house (BPHC) which is a 3 year program which is meant to address the problem of homeless. It is supposed to coordinate networks to mitigate the situation. It will help individual to retain their homes and for those who cannot retain, it will help them to find their next home. There are other bodies which have been working to mitigate the situation. They include Asocial of Gospel Rescue Mission, City of Boston Housing Initiatives, Emergency Shelter Commission, HUD Faith Based and Community Initiatives, Interagency Council on the Homeless, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, White House Faith Based Initiatives, and many others which operate on the same goal of settling the homeless.


The government must come up with a comprehensive prevention strategy that will work to retain those who already have home in their homes. This will help in resolving the issue of increased homelessness. In this regard there must be a framework to help those who are faced with housing problem and are already in their home. There must also be systematic efforts that will assist those who are already on the street or in care homes to go back to their homes or if they don't have homes, help them to acquire new homes. Since many of the homeless especially the old have heath issues, there must be effort to help in addressing the issue of health for all those how are homeless and especially the old.


Biachi, C. (2006). Homelessness in Boston a growing Issue. The Daily Free Press, March 2006

Boston Rescue Mission, (2008). Nationwide - National Survey. Retrieved on 14th March 2008 from http://www.brm.org/index.aspx?sec_id=10&page_id=26&page_url=

Boston Rescue Mission - Greater Boston Census Winter 2006 - 2007. Available at, http://www.brm.org/index.aspx?sec_id=10&page_id=155&page_url=

Byrne, K. & Shea, R. (2002). Variations in the Causes of Homelessness. Boston Medical Center. Retrieved on 14th March 2008 from, http://www.shef.ac.uk/content/1/c6/02/77/05/UsaPaper1.doc

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