Homeless in US: A deepening crisis on the streets of America
By: Hugo Bachega
At Roark-Sullivan we deal with the ever-growing issue of homelessness in the Charleston, WV area. We provide shelter, casemanagement, and job preparedness among other services.
We are not the only market dealing with the homeless population as this article illustrates.
They seem to be almost everywhere, in places old and new, no age spared. Sleeping on cardboard or bare ground, the homeless come together under bridges and trees, their belongings in plastic bags symbolising lives on the move.
Many have arrived on the streets just recently, victims of the same prosperity that has transformed cities across the US West Coast. As officials struggle to respond to this growing crisis, some say things are likely to get worse.
Vibrant Portland, Oregon's largest city, has long lured many. It is the City of Roses, of pleasant climate, rich culture and progressive thinking. It is also an innovation hub, part of what is called Silicon Forest, and new residents have moved here in these post-recession years attracted by its high-tech companies and their well-paid jobs.
But the bonanza, unsurprisingly, has not come to everyone.
Booming demand in an area with limited housing offers quickly drove the cost of living up, and those who were financially on the limit lost the ability they once had to afford a place.
Many were rescued by family and friends, or government programmes and non-profit groups. Others, however, ended up homeless. The lucky ones have found space in public shelters. Not a few are now in tents and vehicles on the streets.
"Even though the economy has never been stronger," Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, said, "inequality [is] growing at an alarming rate and the benefits from a [growing] economy are increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands... We have increasing disparity all across the United States, and that's definitely impacting people."