Social Role Of Homelessness

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Individuals who have experienced homelessness before and sometimes many times are referred to as the “marginally or episodically homeless”. As a result they require a range of more intensive services and support for both adults and children. They may alternate between the shelters or streets and friends, family or independent living, often perceived as having mental health or substance-abuse issues and relying on other homeless people rather than family members. While they may accept concrete assistance, they may not be able to find housing and require a long-term commitment of time and resources to assist them in reestablishing themselves as participating members of the community. By adapting social roles that do not demand high levels of personal functioning, they have adjusted to periodic homelessness. For them trust is difficult to establish and maintain. Those working with the homeless need to understand this behavior is an adaption to endemic stress4. Finally, “chronically homeless”, those homeless for more than year, are least likely to be found in shelters, most likely to be assessed as mentally ill and do not use private or public charity4. Their support network tends to be limited to 1-2 other street people who have developed a routine for living on the street. Fewer families are found with the chronically homeless as over time children have been turned over to relatives or child welfare systems. Clearly a goal here would be to reach and assist individuals
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