Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay Assignment Paper

Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay Assignment Paper

Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay Assignment Paper

Homelessness is difficult to define, and there is no collectively agreed, worldwide definition. The European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANSTA) acknowledges that homelessness is a complex phenomenon that includes those people who are roofless (rough sleepers, newly arrived immigrants, victims of fire and flood), ho useless (with a place to sleep but using temporary institutions or shelters), living in inadequate, overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation, or living in insecure accommodation where they are threatened with eviction or violence (Edgar et al, 2003).Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay A more comprehensive definition is outlined in the final report of the Homelessness Task Force, a group set up by the Scottish Government in 1999 to investigate homelessness in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2002). This defines homeless persons as those ‘who are without any accommodation, who cannot gain access to their accommodation or would risk domestic violence by living there, whose accommodation is unreasonable, overcrowded or a danger to health, or whose accommodation is a caravan or boat and they have nowhere to park it’ (Scottish Executive, 2002, Appendix B). The definition also includes ‘roofless persons without shelter of any kind, those persons living in emergency and temporary accommodation provided for people who are homeless, households residing in accommodation such as Bed and Breakfast premises and ‘those persons staying in institutions because they have nowhere else to go’ (Scottish Executive, 2002, Appendix B). The definition also includes individuals who have insecure accommodation. A person is defined as homeless if they are ‘likely to be evicted lawfully or unlawfully, have no legal rights or permission to stay in accommodation, or if they are involuntarily sharing accommodation with another household, on a long-term basis, in housing circumstances deemed to be unreasonable (Scottish Executive, 2002, Appendix B). The definition with the most relevance to this review is that of the Scottish Government, as it is from this definition that official figures for homelessness are collated. Clearly, homelessness is much more far-reaching than the traditional image of a rough sleeper on a park bench or a beggar on the street (Wood, 2006).Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

Although at first glance the issue of homelessness may not appear to be of particular interest to nurses, there is a well-researched link between homelessness and poor health (Bines, 1994; Grenier, 1996). Official statistics from a study of 225 people who were homeless in Glasgow showed that 65% of them had a longstanding illness and 73% had experienced a neurotic symptom in the past week (Kershaw et al, 2000). A report by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister showed that rough sleepers have an average life expectancy of 42 years, compared with an average life expectancy of 74 years for men and 79 years for women (Griffiths, 2002). Rough sleepers are 35 times more likely to commit suicide and four times more likely to die from unnatural causes than the rest of the UK population (Shaw and Dorling, 1998; Griffiths, 2002).Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

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Research by Crisis, aUK charity, suggests that of the estimated 310 000–380 000 people who are homeless, only 63% are registered with a GP, compared with 99% of the housed population (Crisis, 2003). People who are homeless are more likely to smoke than the housed population (Walker et al, 2002; Health Development Agency, 2004; Scottish Public Health Observatory, 2008). This factor, along with overcrowding and increased rates of HIV (D’Amore et al, 2001), predisposes peoplewho are homeless to pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis and upper respiratory tract infections (Raoult et al, 2001; Craig et al, 2007). In addition, substance abuse rates are high among people who are homeless, particularly among those aged 16–25 years. Home Office figures suggest that 95% of this group have used illegal drugs, compared with 51% of the general population (Ramsay et al, 2001; Win cup et al, 2003). In a recent Glasgow study, 78% of the sample group (n = 266) were found to be drinking hazardously, and 61% met the criteria for lifetime alcohol addiction (Gilchrist and Morrison, 2005).

It has been recognized for some time that there is an ‘inverse care relationship between levels of deprivation and the quality of healthcare received. Tudor Hart first outlined the idea of the inverse care law where ‘in areas with most sickness and death, general practitioners have more work, larger lists, less hospital support, and inherit more clinically ineffective traditions of consultation (Hart, 1971, p. 412). Mercer and Watt (2007) recently proposed that the inverse care law continues to operate within the NHS, and confounds attempts to reduce health inequalities. Homelessness has been acknowledged by the Scottish Executive as one of the major causes of health inequalities. Policies highlight the need to improve the health of people who are homeless (Scottish Executive, 1999, 2000). In 2001, Health and Homelessness Guidance was issued to all NHS boards in Scotland. This requires the implementation of a range of initiatives, including joint working between housing and care providers, prevention of homelessness, and the prevention of inappropriate discharge from hospital of people who are homeless (Scottish Executive, 2001, 2005). Official statistics show that the number of households in Scotland officially recognized as newly homeless in 2007–2008was 41 556, compared with 40 220 in 2002–2003 (data prior to 2002–2003 are estimated only), which suggests that, despite initiatives, homelessness remains a problem (Scottish Executive, 2009a).Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

The relationship between homelessness and health, combined with the size of the problem, makes homelessness a relevant subject for nurses.

However, any attempt to quantify homelessness is problematic. People move in and out of homelessness, so it is difficult to measure the number of people who are homeless at any one time (Edgar et al, 2003). Although official Scottish Executive figures range from 40 220 to 43 030 between 2002–2003 and 2007–2008 (Scottish Executive, 2009), these may not give the complete picture. Research by charities that work with people who are homeless shows that much homelessness is hidden and is therefore never included in the statistics (Crisis, 2004). For example, Crisis estimates that approximately 350 000 people in the UK are not recognized in official figures for homelessness (Crisis, 2009). Taking into account the large numbers of people who are homeless, and the link between homelessness and poorer health, it is inevitable that most nurses will come into contact with people who are homeless during their career, even if this is on an infrequent basis.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics clearly states that nursing care should ‘be respectful of and unrestricted by considerations of age, color, creed, culture, disability or illness, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, politics, race or social status (International Council of Nurses, 2005, p. 1). This requirement is reflected in the Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2008a), regulations which require nurses to show a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity, and a lack of discrimination, regardless of the patient’s economic status. However, some authors suggest that prejudice against people who are homeless does exist among nurses, and that it is a widespread international problem (Ugarriza and Fallon, 1994; Gooden et al, 2001; Myhrvold, 2006). Therefore a literature review was undertaken to examine nurse attitudes towards people who are homeless, and to propose recommendations for nursing practice.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay


A literature search was performed using the following databases: CINAHL, ASSIA, Intute Health and Life Sciences, Cochrane Library (Wiley), British Nursing Index, SCOPUS, University of Dundee Library Catalogue and NHS e-library (which incorporates Medline, Embase and PsycINFO). The time frame was unrestricted in order to ensure that seminal work would not be excluded from the results. Research from the homeless charities Crisis, Shelter and the Simon Community was also examined. Only published research was included. Although this is not ideal, due to the risk of publication bias (where journals tend to publish studies with positive outcomes rather than those with negative or no outcomes) (Aveyard, 2007), it was necessary for reasons of practicality. The search was restricted to English-language articles. The following keywords were used: nurse, nursing, homeless, homelessness, health, healthcare, health outcome, attitude, prejudice, stigma, bias, view and perception. All research study methods were included. Literature on children as a specific group was excluded, although research incorporating adolescents and families was included. Homelessness is prevalent among single adults. Of the 57 304 applications to Scottish local authorities in 2008–2009, 61% were from adults without children (Scottish Executive, 2009b). Therefore nurses are more likely to come into contact with single homeless adults during their career. Furthermore, the review focused on nurses’ attitudes towards people who are homeless, rather than on the complex issues of child poverty and child homelessness.

The initial search produced a total of 242 articles. All of the abstracts were read, and articles were rejected if they did not meet the following criteria. The article had to focus on nurses only. Articles that made reference to the attitudes of health providers, doctors or other health professionals, but which provided no evidence that nurses were included in the research, were excluded. Prior to exclusion, they were examined in full, to minimize the risk of losing data. However, it is accepted that as a result of this approach, some data may have been lost. Articles about general investigations of vulnerable populations, marginalized groups or disadvantaged groups were excluded, unless demographic data were available to show that the focus of the research was on people who are homeless. This ensured that the topic referred specifically to nurses and people who are homeless.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

There were two exceptions to the above criteria. The first was an article which related specifically to nurse prejudice and the poor. Although poor people are not necessarily homeless, it was felt that poverty was present among the majority of people who are homeless, and that similar attitudes towards people who are homeless would therefore be revealed. The second article was included because, although it did not just relate to the attitudes of nurses, it included significant data relating to nurses within the transcripts. It was also the only article that focused specifically on the attitudes of nurses towards people who are homeless, from the homeless person’s viewpoint. If the principal focus of the study was a health problem that was common in people who are homeless (e.g. drug use, HIV rates, mental health problems), and if homelessness was a secondary issue, the study was excluded. Articles relating to general access to healthcare for people who are homeless were also excluded, with the exception of articles that focused on nurses attitudes as a barrier to care. Only primary research was included in the review, as it was felt that this provided stronger evidence in addressing the aim of the review (Aveyard, 2007). Therefore discussion papers were disregarded, following scrutiny of their reference lists for additional primary research.

The search resulted in a very limited body of research being discovered.Atotal of eight articles were sourced. From the reference lists of these articles, two other relevant studies were obtained, resulting in a total of ten articles. A systematic approach to analysis of the data was used. Each article was read in detail and summarized (see Table 1). Each was then critically analyzed using both the Public Health Resource Unit’s Critical Skills Appraisal Program me (Public Health Resource Unit, 2007) and Polit and Beck’s model for critiquing qualitative and quantitative research (Polit and Beck, 2006).Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay In order to extract themes from the literature, the studies were re-examined and each relevant idea or argument was assigned a code. For example, negative attitudes towards people who are homeless acting as a barrier to healthcare was coded as barriers to healthcare. Nurses being able to personally identify with people who are homeless following experience of working in a shelter was coded as experience/ personal identity. When the coding process was complete, recurrent themes were extracted. The codes were distributed under each theme. This process was based on content analysis techniques that enable the researcher to ‘identify patterns, categories, and/or themes in recorded language (Waltz et al, 2005, p. 239). Although it was simplified for the purposes of this review, content analysis enabled a systematic approach to comparing and contrasting the literature.


Following coding, five main themes were identified:

• the existence of negative attitudes among nurses towards people who are homeless

• people who are homeless being regarded as objects and dehumanized Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

• how nurses attitudes predict behaviour

• nurses prejudice as a barrier to the homeless accessing healthcare

• how to change nurses negative attitudes.

The existence of negative attitudes

Following a qualitative content analysis of 17 interviews with homeless men and women residing in five shelters in Toronto, it was proposed that nurses negative attitudes may be due to the fact that people who are homeless have a higher prevalence of mental illness, substance abuse and traumatic experiences, which lead people who are homeless to misinterpret nurses attitudes (Wen et al, 2007). Of the articles analyzed, strong negative attitudes among nurses towards people who are homeless were identified in 6 of the 10 studies. The earliest study of nurser attitudes towards the poor (Price et al, 1989) was also the largest and geographically most wide-ranging study of those reviewed (n = 240). The results showed that 58% of nurses believed that homeless women often became pregnant in order to claim welfare payments, 43% believed that the homeless were taking advantage of the healthcare system, and all nurses believed that a certain proportion of people who were homeless were on benefits for dishonest reasons (Price et al, 1989).

In a recent Hungarian study, Zrinyi and Balogh (2004) also reported negative attitudes among nurses (n = 220). Although they acknowledged that the initial results appeared to indicate neutral attitudes, detailed analysis showed that only 61% of nurses agreed strongly with the statement ‘I never refuse to provide care for a homeless person (Zrinyi and Balogh, 2004, p. 239). Therefore 39% of nurses did not feel able to agree strongly with this statement. In addition, only 9% of nurses said that physical abuse of people who are homeless was entirely against their beliefs, and 63% approved of the unconditional use of force. Although these results appear discouraging, it should be noted that the researchers were unable to confirm the validity of the scale that was used, and they acknowledged that Hungary had not recently updated its system for educating nurses in ethics. Therefore these factors limit the extent to which the study can be generalized.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

During my senior year of high school, on a bitter Saturday morning in January, I found myself at the entrance to the Boston Common assisting other volunteers from the Sock Exchange charity in organizing food and clothing for distribution to the homeless of the city. Here, just steps away from the Massachusetts State House, resides a large population of Boston’s homeless, who always look forward to the first Saturday of each month to receive a sandwich, clothing, and human interaction from the Sock Exchange volunteers.

That week I was on toiletry duty, distributing dental and personal hygiene products to our patrons.  As I was restocking the floss and toothpaste, a figure stepped into my peripheral vision, causing me to glance up for a moment.  Though several feet away, it was clear that he was out of place; he was bundled up from the cold, except for his hands, which were holding a clipboard and pen.  He was not a fellow volunteer, nor a regular patron, but he was engaged in conversation with one of our frequenters.  “That’s odd,” I thought to myself, “I wonder what he’s selling.”  Just as I noticed the stranger, so did Andrea, the program leader, and she quickly hurried over to interrupt the tete-ta-tete and angrily shooed the man away.  “Recruiters,” Andrea said rolling her eyes once back at the stall.  “Like for job hiring?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “to be a guinea pig.”

At the time, I did not understand Andrea’s adverse reaction to seeing the recruiter, nor the extent of the role that homeless individuals play in research.  After participating in ethics and bioethics courses, the nature of the situation became apparent to me.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

In the realm of pharmaceutical research, an increasingly popular phenomenon is the employment of the homeless for the experimentation of new drugs, often anti psychotics.  The rationale derives from the fact that drug companies need mentally ill subjects for testing, and the homeless population provides an ample and available subject pool (Elliot).  Recruiters, like the one from my anecdote, visit known places of congregation for the homeless: shelters, underpasses, and, apparently, the Sock Exchange and similar charitable events.  The personal contact is crucial for recruiters, as it allows them to perform their salesmanship skills through the offering money and hospitable lodgings for the duration of the research study to try to persuade them into participating.  One participant reported that the “recruiter made testing drugs sound like a vacation in a five-star hotel,” as they described only the benefits but none of the hazards that come with drug trials (Elliot).  These drug studies can pay upwards of $2,500, which, for an economically disadvantaged population, can prove to be a strong incentive and is often the motivation behind why these individuals participate.

Today, the idea of monetary compensation is less controversial and less ethically questionable than it once was not long ago.  Prior to now, paying research volunteers “was seen as problematic and, even more so, if the subjects were poor, uninsured and compromised by illness,” generally the situation of a homeless individual (Elliot).  With the transition of medical research into the private sector, the ethical attitude toward compensation also changed, seen with the stark increases in payment amounts, which can be well over $6,000 (Elliot).  Though some may interpret this as a simple business transaction with no ethical dilemmas, I find this to be particularly troubling, as such high compensation can be compelling for the homeless, who are economically disadvantaged and may not be able to make these types of decisions alone due to their vulnerable mental state.  For example, the effect of compensation can go beyond pressuring the homeless to participate, but can instigate the taking of drugs or addictive substances just to be eligible for a study and receive payment (Elliot).  In this way, I find that targeting the homeless with these methods proves to be an ethical issue in research.


To help protect humans from unethical practices and harms incurred by research, four bio ethical principles were developed, first by Beau champ and Childless and then expanded on in the Belmont Report.  The principles of autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, and justice have transformed the approach to ethical research involving human subjects, and can be used to analyze the treatment of participants.  I believe the principles of autonomy and justice prove most useful to examine the ethics of the practice of targeting the homeless for drug trials.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

As outlined in the Belmont Report, respect for persons involves treating individuals as autonomous agents and protecting those with diminished autonomy.  Those with diminished autonomy are those “not capable of self-determination” which could result from illness or mental disability, and because of this, there is an obligation to protect them and their autonomy (Belmont Report 4).  Though not all homeless individuals suffer from mental illness, a portion does, and they often are unable to receive the medical treatment they need.  Recruiters scouting homeless shelters purposefully seek out these individuals, because they need participants with such afflictions and know that they can take advantage of their situation.  But, who then is protecting the homeless individual’s autonomy, and thus ensuring that they are respected as persons?  There is no proxy nor guardian to act in their best protective interest, nor even to accurately and easily explain information about the study and its effects.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

As such, the homeless population needs protection from undue influence, which “occurs through an offer of an excessive…reward or other overture in order to obtain compliance” (Belmont Report 8).  I find that in this issue the undue influence is the large sums offered as compensation for participating.  When dealing with a vulnerable and economically disadvantaged population, like the homeless, offering large amounts of money as payment is an undue influence on their decision making, since if not in their current financial state, they may otherwise not consent to testing, as they would not be as desperate for money.  These individuals are “at their lowest state, and they’ll say yes to anything” when facing this possible income (Elliot).  Researchers are exploiting others economic desperation.  Furthermore, even though offering money may be ethically acceptable for populations with full autonomy, it is still an undue influence on the homeless, since they, particularly those with a mental illness, have diminished autonomy, are not being protected, and are particularly vulnerable to this type of economic incentive (Belmont Report 8).  These practices of recruiting and unduly influencing the homeless disrespects them as persons, and thus is unethical.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

The principle of justice can also be used to analyze the ethical issue of targeting the homeless for research purposes.  Justice deals with “who ought to receive the benefits of research and bear its burdens” (Belmont Report 5).  An injustice involves a burden being imposed unduly (Belmont Report).  Recruiting heavily from the homeless population to test pharmaceuticals places an undue burden on the group.  As previously mentioned, one of the reasons the homeless are preyed upon for these studies is because of the high rate of mental illness present within the population (Elliot).  They are being “systematically selected simply because of their easy availability [and] their compromised position” (Belmont Report 6).  But, mental illnesses do not only manifest in the homeless.  Mental illnesses are prevalent throughout society, regardless of socioeconomic status.  Because of this, an undue burden is placed on them.  Additionally, the homeless will most likely never experience the benefits from their participation in the study, as they have limited access to healthcare and lack funds to afford the tested drug.  The burden, then, is disproportionately falling on the poor, while the benefits fall on the wealthy.  According to the principle of justice, it is apparent that the targeting of the homeless for their participation in research studies is an injustice, and is subsequently unethical.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

Thinking back to that cold winter day, I now understand Andrea’s aggressive reaction towards to recruiter and her desire to protect those in need from him.  She was, in a sense, acting as a de-facto proxy, a role that this population desperately needs in these situations.

The idea of researchers seeking out the homeless in shelters and offering them lump sums for participation in studies seems to me inherently problematic.  In difficult and desperate situations, such as homelessness, it is only natural for one to do what is necessary to survive.  But, in my view, these researchers are preying on and instigating these vulnerable people into putting their lives at risk.  To respect their person hood fully and act justly, while also allowing for their ethical participation in research, there should be extra restrictions and guidelines when involving the homeless.  Admittedly, not everyone may share my perspective.  Fortunately, the bio ethical research principles of autonomy and justice assist in guiding the normative judgment that the practice is an unethical one.  It is my hope that in the near future, more attention will be given to the unethical research practices inflicted on this marginalized population, which will then result in better protections for them.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

Homelessness is a very huge problem that America has come to face. Millions of people, including children, families, babies, veterans, and the elderly live day after day without food, water or a roof over their heads. People that are mentally ill also have it tough on the streets, which can be extremely confusing to them, and dangerous to the rest of society. This problem must be solved soon, and therefore should be addressed as a major crisis that is affecting our society.

The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade or so. They are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. Together they are approximately 40% of all people who are homeless. Sadly, rural areas contain the largest group of homeless families, single mothers, and children. Emotions hit home when children and babies can be pictured living in an alley with only dreams of warmth, while normal middle class citizens stroll by wearing coats and mittens without even appreciating them.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

People have not always had to suffer with homelessness. Though the problem has almost always existed, it had not reached a severe level until the early 1970’s. With every war there has been a small trickle of homeless veterans to follow, but the Vietnam War and Korean War left a wave of many people without anywhere to go. This was just the start of the problem. Many homeless people lived in places called Skid Row. A place with cheap bars, entertainment, and very cheap housing in buildings called SROs, or Single Room Occupancy. Then cities started to grow, and in the mid 1970s One million SROs were replaced with parking lots, buildings and apartments. Skid Row eventually vanished. Then the government decided to decriminalize what was left to control. That means there were a great many homeless people that would normally be arrested under these conditions, still roaming the streets. Women and children started to filter in to the homeless scene, and then in a huge recession in the 1980s 11,000,000 people were laid off (9.7% of all jobs). The numbers of homeless people soared. It didn’t stop here though. President Reagan and Bush dropped public housing funds from 30 billion dollars to 6.7 billion, a net loss of 37,800 houses per year. By the beginning of the 1990s, over one million people were on waiting lists for homes.

The one category that most people assume all homeless fall into is the undeserving homeless, or “bums”. These are usually men in their 40s or 50s who sit around all day and do nothing. They don’t try and help themselves or others. They lie and cheat and honestly deserve nothing because they could never give anything if they were forced to. They make up a very small group in fact, about 4% of all homeless.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

Drugs are everywhere on the streets. It is estimated that 20% of all people living on the streets use hard drugs daily. Such drugs as cocaine, heroine, and morphine plague certain areas. AIDS often spreads like wildfire among people who share UN-sterilized needles, and once a person contracts the HIV virus, they become a statistic in the disabled category.

Even the people with full time jobs are in need of permanent residence. These people live on eating scraps of food from trash cans, and possible meals from shelters on occasion, but those are usually three times a week at dinner, or some other type of schedule. People who have homes rarely think, nor can comprehend what terrible things that the homeless have to go through. They live in abandoned buildings, cars, buses, boxes, on park benches and underground. They eat bits of old fruit and meat with the mold and green sludge scrapped off.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

I have realized that there seem to be two main elements in saving a homeless person. The government needs to help homeless people get back on their feet. They need to make sure also that homeless people don’t abuse systems such as social security and housing. Also, the homeless need to get up on their own two feet, for themselves. Finding jobs, such as selling “Homeless Newspapers” seems to be a common first step. A vendor gets the papers for free or low cost, sells them for something like a dollar and keeps 55 cents, or a little more than half, for each sold. The homeless can then use this money to pay for food, shelter, and etcetera. Many shelters exist whose primary goal is to help the homeless get a job and home. They offer computer teachers, landscapers, welders, and other types of craft that can be used in society today. So if the government is willing to help get the homeless roused into the wanting of a better life, and they wish to follow through, then I think we could find a better, faster way to end the nation’s problem of homelessness.

We see them as a crowd, one entity; we call them the homeless, as if it identifies who they are. What most forget is that they are also people. These “people” with social disabilities or financial problems are abandoned by society and become homeless on the streets. And although many believe they don’t owe anyone help, a little generosity could go a long way on the road to lowering homeless numbers around the world.

Homelessness is a growing epidemic across the country. This terrible misfortune has led to many unsuspecting people leading impoverished lifestyles, and facing the horrific and heart-wrenching tragedy of abandonment. The purpose of this essay is to not only persuade the readers to get involved in ending homelessness on local and national efforts, but to embrace new and creative ways of helping to end this rapidly growing problem, by taking action to end this catastrophic situation. Also, I will demonstrate the causes and effects of the homeless resorting to violence, by using comparison and contrast to examine the views and standpoints on helping the forgotten, so that we might end this calamity once and for all. In an increasingly interconnected world, your actions matter more than ever. You can make an indelible difference by taking action to end this tragic situation.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

Homelessness is a growing epidemic around the world, and poverty is the most common reason most people are forced to face the miserable life of living without shelter. The only way that we can help this unfortunate situation is to take action, and by doing that, we need to know the facts about this unfortunate situation. Over two-million people live in emergency shelters, and transitional housing. With so many people living in poverty, it gives us a better understanding as to why there are so many homeless people today. Having no food, and relying on food kitchens, garbage scraps, and stealing food, is a very tragic situation. With no protection from the elements, many of them will die from heat strokes, or quite frankly, freeze to death.

When talking about homelessness, race is often the elephant in the room. But no matter how much we avoid it, the blunt reality is that black Americans are greatly over represented in homeless shelters across the United States. In 2010, one out of every 141 black family members sought refuge in a homeless shelter, a rate seven times higher than members of white families.

The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness report “Inter generational Disparities Experienced by Homeless Black Families,” released Thursday, sheds light on this grim circumstance, by highlighting disparities among black and white families in the United States.Ethics and Homeless People Treatment Essay

The statistics are stark: Black persons in families make up 12.1 percent of the U.S. family population, but represented 38.8 percent of sheltered persons in families in 2010. In comparison, 65.8 percent of persons in families in the general population are white, while white family members only occupied 28.6 percent of family shelter beds in 2010.

This disparity exists in city after city throughout the country, For example, in New York City and St. Louis in 2009, the most recent data available, twice as many black families were found in shelters (55.9 percent and 95 percent, respectively) compared to their share of the general city population (25.2 percent versus 49.5 percent). The opposite held true for white families who were vastly underrepresented in local shelters (1.9 percent and 3 percent, respectively), given the percentages of white families in New York City and St. Louis overall (36.1 percent versus 44.7 percent).

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