Are homeless people not given housing in the US?

I am a bit confused by one of the latest cracked articles - it seems to suggest that if you’re homeless you won’t get housing in the US. Obviously I wouldn’t except mcmansions to be handed out but are there are not at least homeless shelters that anyone is entitled to?

There are homeless people in the UK but they are there by choice (effectively) - admittedly local government only has to provide accommodation to vulnerable people (which in practice means everyone apart from white single men between 25 to 50) but there are hostels avaliable to everyone in practice, assuming they aren’t an abusive nob.

What happens in the US?

I don’t have an answer, but I believe I’ve tracked down the article in question at Cracked:

5 Mind-Blowingly Valuable Things Hidden in Everyday Life

Yes, there are homeless shelters in the U.S.

Having volunteered at several, however, it never seems to be enough and there are always people on the streets, in their cars, or otherwise without a roof over their heads.

There are homeless shelters but they don’t have enough beds for everyone and they are generally run by charities like the Salvation Army rather than the government. Individual homeless people may find places to stay sometimes but no attempt is made to have a semi-permanent place for all of them, all of the time. You can indeed find yourself on the street in the U.S. with literally no where else to go.

Most of the larger cities have shelters. They have strict rules that must be followed in order to stay.

There will always be people who won’t seek help, will refuse help, and are thus truly homeless.

There are homeless shelters, but they, by and large, are run by private / charitable organizations (though this will vary widely by location).

Many shelters only provide overnight accommodations (i.e… a place to sleep, maybe a meal); they don’t allow the homeless to stay there 24/7. In many cases, the shelters are located in churches, recreation centers, etc., they’re staffed by volunteers, and the space may be used for other purposes during the day.

Many shelters will not allow people to stay there if they are intoxicated, or if they cause trouble. It’s entirely possible for a troublesome homeless person to get bounced out of his local homeless shelter system.

In addition, there are a fair number of homeless people who don’t want to go to the shelters. There can be issues with theft of their few possessions, and I’ve heard of occasional problems with violence, as well.

Try reading the article first - it specifically mentions homeless shelters. But the article linked to is talking about “Housing First” - a housing model that eliminates the typical steps of getting homeless into stable housing. Normally, a homeless person goes into an emergency shelter, receives some immediate services, gets assessed for transitional or permanent housing, and connects with a case worker during that entire period until s/he is deemed capable of living independently.

Housing First throws that all out the window, and puts the homeless person directly into stable, independent housing at the outset, but still connects with them via a case worker, who makes sure the person is accessing the services s/he needs (drug/alcohol rehabilitation, healthcare, education, job training, etc.).

Permanent housing for every homeless person? No way. There are some temporary living situations available for pregnant women and women with children, which my cousin has taken advantage of. She had three kids before age 20, and her crazy mom kicked her out while she was pregnant with the 3rd one. A church set up a tiny apartment for her and helped her find a job. But these services are not available on a permanent basis, and not generally for childless homeless people (or men). Childless victims of domestic violence would be eligible for some services on a temporary basis, but most of what’s out there is for mothers and their kids.

There are some overnight shelters available to the general public, depending on the area. These are typically at capacity pretty much all the time (especially in bad weather). There’s no place to store your things, so you’ve got whatever you can wear and keep in your pockets. They give you a bed to sleep in, a shower, and maybe a meal or 2… that’s it.

I volunteered at such a shelter through the Lafayette Urban Ministry when I was in college, and their rules are super-strict. The shelter only allowed overnight stays. For regulars, they had to sign up the day before to sleep there the next night, or else the bed would be given away (first come, first serve for people not on the list). They turned people away every night, due to capacity. You couldn’t loiter or panhandle near the place during the day, or else your name got cut from the list. No drugs, no paraphernalia, no arguing. It’s better than nothing, but it’s a lot less than we should be doing.

First of all, I have understood that there are two types of “homeless” people here in the US - one of them being people who were recently evicted/foreclosed/kicked out and are trying hard to get back into housing. These people often have reasonably good job skills, legal documentation, and some material resources (e.g. car, cash, computer, etc.). If they can find a job, they can get out of the situation in a few weeks or a few months. Shelters can provide temporary housing during the job search and while waiting for the first (or possibly second) paycheck. Then they can get an apartment. The second are the so-called “hardcore” homeless that you see sleeping on benches downtown. They are often seriously mentally ill, in poor physical health, and are basically unemployable. Many may not have identification and are basically nobodies. These are the people that you see shuffling around urban parks mumbling incoherently and wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather. Sometimes it seems that there’s not much you can do for them in terms of housing - their lifestyle is being homeless and they are likely to return to it because they can’t function in Corporate America.

I live in Sweden, and getting a home as a homeless person here is extremely difficult, much for the same reasons stated in this thread regarding America. I would guess it works about the same way in every western country. I would be interested in what country you are from, OP, that makes you surprised by the Cracked article (which I happened to read before I read this thread, without even reflecting it was about another country, by the way)?

This is a huge problem, or at least seems thus anecdotally. I make a point of carrying the number for our local hypothermia hotline on my cellphone; I rarely give money, but I’ll often offer to call a shelter transport for homeless folks in bad weather. I’ve only ever had one guy take me up on it. I’ve spoken to a few at some length - they seemed sober and lucid, and their reasons for avoiding the shelter were as stated above: They feared for their possessions, disliked the genuine crazies, and also (especially in winter) objected to the smell. I can’t say I blamed them.

This. Additionally, there are people who are in the middle of the two examples robert gives. Those that used to be part of the system, but are not recently fallen on hard times. They may have possessions, pets, etc, and they will camp out in the urban parksof our cities, often in the underbrush, in makshift camps and shanties with others in their same situation, for long periods. They are not necessarily mentally ill, but for one reason or another, refuse to go to a shelter (drug use, crime, pets, possessions, etc.). Our cities try to keep them swept under the rug and out of sight, but they are out there. They are probably more in the west and south where the winters are not so harsh.

I always think about this when our dear leaders proclaim the US is the greatest country on the face of the earth that has ever been blah blah blah…

As strange as it may seem, there are people who choose to be homeless.
When I delivered papers there was a guy at the warehouse who is homeless and likes it that way. In the summer he lives in a tent in the woods, in the winter he’ll find a building somewhere to camp out in.
He likes flying under the radar, doing odd jobs for cash, not having bills, not paying taxes, and having no responsibilities. His money goes for food and alcohol, but he is not a drunk and he is not stupid.

Some family members hired a caretaker in New Hampshire who was like that. He got his own residence and money for working a farm. It was a good deal for the right person. He had been living in a tent at state park park for the last few months so they figured he would be an eager worker so they hired him right before it started to get cold in the late fall. He was…until the spring thaw came and then he just disappeared. It turns out he did that to someone new every year. He only liked living indoors when had to and then it was straight back to the tent with his dog.

You are correct that there are 2 types of Homeless people. You are quite wrong if you contend that there are only 2.

The OP mentions the UK, but I think they’re misinformed about the ease of accessing shelters in the UK.

It does seem better than in the US in many ways, in that people categorised as having a “priority need,” such as those with disabilities, pregnant women, and people with kids, will always be given somewhere to stay. This might be called a"'shelter," but it won’t be an overnight shelter, rather a basic room with very basic cooking facilities (a hob, essentially; perhaps a fridge). It might be a small, privately-rented flat too; it varies a lot depending on need and what’s available.

However, a young healthy person with no dependants will have to rely on friends and overnight shelters that are often too full and are not pleasant places to be in. The council has no obligation to house them, just to offer advice. Cite: Shelter.

I was homeless from the age of 16-18 and again briefly at 21, hence knowing about this.

So the situation in the US does seem worse, quite a lot worse, but the situation in the UK isn’t all sunshine and roses either.

Bus to Nowhere: For Silicon Valley’s homeless population, Hotel 22 is an endless ride. (pdf).

This is an interesting article that describes Bus Route 22. The bus route operates 24 hours a day and has turned into a rolling homeless shelter. Silicon Valley is the area between San Jose California and San Francisco that houses most of the best-known high tech corporations in the US. It is also one of the wealthiest areas. But there are many homeless in the area. The reasons they are homeless include mental or physical illness, bad life choices, the inability to pay rent on a minimum wage salary, and many more. This article profiles a number of the regulars on Bus Route 22. Their reasons for choosing to live on a bus rather than in a shelter range from fear of “permanency” involved in staying in one place to the dangerous conditions they have experienced in some shelters.

Most of what has been said in this thread so far about America applies to Canada, too, or at least, Montreal.

There are services here in Montreal who can help the homeless get homes. There are problems, however. Some homeless people commit minor crimes (drinking in public, smoking inside subway stations, etc.) and get fined for them. Since they rack up so many fines, whether they can pay the fines or not, the result is that they can never save money towards a home.

That and the fact that if they are paralyzed, the bus driver (most of whom usually moonlight as Victoria’s Secret underwear models) will stop periodically and give them a therapeutic handjob…