The Detroit Free Press estimated 10,745 people are homeless in March of 2020 1.
With that many people suffering you would think Detroit’s local government would offer many services and resources to the homeless population. Detroit has been going in the right direction, but they need to do more work to help the people who are struggling. In order for homeless people to live better lives in Detroit, local government should offer more resources.
To start, Coalition for the Homeless interviewed many academic experts and found one solution for helping with the homeless population would be to provide more affordable housing or Section 8 vouchers. These will help individuals and families get homes faster but also create a more sustainable future.2 It has been proven that providing help to people who are homeless will get them out of their situation, so why isn’t the government helping? Many regular people will donate a few dollars if they see a homeless person, but the government isn’t doing their part to help with the homeless.
Local government should use some of the tax dollars to improve a portion of the population’s life. By helping provide affordable housing less people will be forced into homelessness and more people will be able to get out of homelessness. By helping people get into homes, their children will be able to have better lives and more stable futures.
In addition, when children don’t have homes it can severely affect their growth and development. The National Alliance to End Homelessness studied the effects of homelessness on children compared to low-income families. They found homeless children had more emotional and behavioral problems, an increased risk of severe illness, and were more likely to struggle in school.3
In addition the Center for New York Affairs found, “more than half of [homeless] preschoolers showed at least one major developmental delay and, by the time they were 5 to 7 years old, many had below-average IQ score.”4
By being homeless, something they can’t control, they will have many issues with education and with their mental health. If they were able to live in homes and not have to have the stress of living on the streets many of these issues could be avoided. Even if you think people put themselves into homelessness these children did nothing and still deserve to live great lives and learn just like their peers. Detroit’s government should provide resources to help their growing youth. Providing housing will relieve stress and create a more stable community for the children to grow up in. Many people who experience homelessness, both families and individuals, often only need a little bit of help.
Continuing, some people who are homeless will only need some basic help. In a Ted Talk, Maurice Young, an actively homeless person talks about his experience in a homeless shelter and helping the people who also lived there.
“I knew right there as I looked at those faces who just needed some help, very simple help, that that’s what I wanted to do. That is absolutely positively what I wanted to do”5.
He found many people in the shelter only needed to learn how to read or needed 35 dollars for a bus ticket. If the government were to provide some tutoring at the shelters many people would be able to get back on their feet more easily. Detroit should offer these services to their homeless population.
Some people who live in Detroit may be frustrated by the homeless population and feel as if they are lazy; that they should just get jobs. However, they fail to realize it is almost impossible for homeless people to get jobs. Backpacks for the Street illustrates many reasons why homeless people can’t get jobs, “They don’t have addresses, and most employers require addresses. This is a lose-lose situation: They can’t get a place to live until they get a job, but can’t get a job until they get a place to live. The lack of an address can be a huge obstacle to finding work.”6
Having and keeping a job is one of the most important things for living in our current society. Homeless people are stuck in a loop. They can’t get jobs without assistance. We should push for more resources for the homeless population in Detroit.
Talk to your lawmakers, convince them to provide more housing, more tutors, and more opportunities for jobs.
Abigail Finnerty is an eighth grade student at Clarkston Junior High School.
1 Darcie Moran, Detroit opens 124-room homeless facility, eyes street care amid COVID-19, freep.com, March
2 Coalition for the Homeless, Myths and Facts, coalitionforthehomeless.org/myths-and-facts/
3 End Homlessnes, Children and Families, endhomelessness.org, Jaunary 2020
4 Abigail Kramer, Early childhood homelessness can damage kids’ development, centernyc.org, 2021
5 Ted Talk, Maurice Young, Homeless by design, youtube.com/watch?v=bsZEXkCABCw, April 2011
6 Bright From the Start (BFTS), Why Don’t Homeless People Just Get Jobs?, backpacksforthestreet.org/why-dont-homeless-people-just-get-jobs, June 2019