The Current Controversies series examines today's most important social and political issues. Each volume presents a diverse selection of primary sources representing all sides of the debate in question.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Does Being Homeless Lead to a Life of Street Crime?
Overview: The Homeless Often Have to Commit Petty Crimes in Order to Survive 18
How a young individual is raised plays an important role on homeless youth, who often adapt to life on the streets by committing crimes such as drug dealing and robbery in order to stay alive. Stephen Baron
Yes: Being Homeless Leads to a Life of Street Crime
There Are Numerous Factors That Lead to Youth Being Homeless 36
National Network for Youth: Mental health issues, substance abuse, and trouble in school are some of the most popular factors that enhance the odds of a young person becoming homeless.
Parental Abuse and Violence Lead to Future Crime and Homelessness for Youth 45
Data suggests that families with backgrounds of violence and crime are more likely to produce a child who will commit a crime and be charged by police than families who don't have a history of violence or crime. John Hagan Bill McCarthy
Untreated Mental Illness is connected to Homelessness and Criminal Activity 50
Best MSW Programs: There's a direct correlation between mental illness and homelessness, with 385,000 homeless people in the US suffering from untreated schizophrenia or manic depression, and a number of them will end up in prison.
No: Being Homeless Does Not Lead to a Life of Street Crime
More Needs to Be Done to Help the Homeless 55
With fewer public housing locations available and cities making it a crime to be homeless, the odds of overcoming the homeless lifestyle are stacked against the homeless. Bill Quigley
The Homeless Have Many Crimes Committed Against Them 59
National Coalition for the Homeless: While some people believe that homeless people are criminals, data suggests that hate crimes are commonly committed against the homeless, including a 61 percent increase in one year.
Chapter 2 Are the Homeless More Likely to Be Found Guilty of a Crime?
Overview: There Is a Direct Correlation Between Homelessness and Crime 65
People who get out of incarceration face an increased risk of becoming homeless due to difficulties finding housing and gaining employment. Stephen Metraux Caterina G. Roman Richard S. Cho
Yes: The Homeless Are More Likely to Be Found Guilty of a Crime
Fees and Fines Don't Allow the Homeless to Catch Up 80
Already in a bad situation, the homeless aren't able to catch up because of the jailing of probationers who are unable to pay fines and fees, and things like asset forfeit seizures. Terrell Jermaine Starr
Poverty and the Criminal Justice System Go Hand in Hand 86
Political Research Associates: More than 50 percent of state prisoners report an annual income below $10,000 prior to being arrested. Those who can't afford a private attorney are more likely to spend more time in jail. The connections between poverty and crime are complicated.
Homeless People Are More Susceptible to Public Order Offenses 93
Sydney Criminal Lawyers: The homeless often have a criminal history, but their crimes are usually not serious. Public policy treats the homeless as criminals instead of victims, but more often than not, their offenses are trespassing and public urination.
No: The Homeless Are No More Likely to Be Found Guilty of a Crime
Homelessness Being a crime Is the Real Crime 97
The fact that some homeless people are criminals isn't the main problem. Rather, the fact that being homeless is treated as a crime is the underlying issue. Allen Arthur
Untreated Mental Illness Is a Gateway to Homelessness 103
Homelessness and criminalization are so common in New Orleans that the Municipal Court holds hearings at the local homeless shelter. Eve Abrams
The Link Between Homelessness and Criminal Involvement Isn't Black and White 109
The Justice Management Institute: While there's certainly a link between homelessness and the criminal justice system, the reason for that link is sometimes beyond the control of the homeless person due to mental illness and other factors.
Chapter 3 Do We Have a Responsibility to Help the Homeless?
Overview Health, Safety and Education are Crucial to a Successful Society 114
Being homeless affects one's physical and mental health, and an inconsistent home life often has a negative impact on a homeless child's education. In fact, there are few areas of a person's life that being homeless doesn't affect, which in turn impact society at large. Paul Boden
Yes: We Have a Responsibility to Help the Homeless
The Government Has a Responsibility to Help the Homeless 118
Department for Communities and Local Government: The government has a responsibility to both the homeless and the non-homeless to develop committees and create plans to put an end to homelessness.
The Government Can't Do It Alone 134
Government of Western Australia: Western Australia has developed a State Plan that brings government agencies and community organizations together to create a strategy to bring homelessness to an end.
The Wealthy Need to Step Up 146
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda, are helping to provide transitional housing in Washington State through the Sound Families Initiative.
No: We Do Not Have a Responsibility to Help the Homeless
Government Funded Shelter Isn't as Crucial as We Think 149
Despite efforts in some locations to provide free housing or other forms of shelter, the number of homeless increased. The lack of evidence to support that government-funded shelter has helped reduce homelessness doesn't help the argument that we need to do more for the homeless. Dr. Tracy Miller
People from All Walks of Life Can End Up on the Street 152
People think that only the lower class can fall victim to homelessness, but when examining all of the reasons why people end up homeless, the middle and upper classes aren't exempt from living on the street. Kylyssa Shay
Even the Wealthy Can Become Homeless 158
Natalia: Natalia, a Nigerian-born woman with wealthy parents, tells her story as to how she ended up homeless in a new country. This personal narrative proves that almost anyone can end up homeless.
Chapter 4 Would Ending Homelessness Help Reduce Street Crime?
Overview: There's Two-Way Cycle Between Homelessness and Crime 166
The homeless have a higher chance of ending up in prison, while the people being released from prison are more likely to end up homeless and on the streets. This cycle is difficult to break. Sheri Cartwright
Yes: Ending Homelessness Would Help Reduce Street Crime
Santa Ana Sees the Direct Correlation Between Homelessness and Crime 169
In Santa Ana, California, an increase in the homeless population correlated into a rise in crime, including robberies and assaults with a deadly weapon. Fixing one problem could fix the other, but the solutions are not so simple. Theresa Walker Jordan Graham
Spending Time in Prison Increases the Risk of Becoming Homeless 178
The country of Scotland details its findings on the relationship between prison and homelessness, stating that some people aren't in prison long enough to get help from support agencies. When they return to the streets, they are right back where they started. Shelter Scotland
Repeat Offenders Drive Crime 215
Repeat offenders, who are living on the streets and committing crimes to feed their drug addictions, are keeping crime numbers from dropping significantly in some cities. Robert Matas
No: Ending Homelessness Would Not Help Reduce Street Crime
Homelessness Is the Crime in Some Places 219
It's hard to reduce crime in cities where living on the streets and sharing food with others is considered a crime. That makes homeless people criminals, a designation difficult to change. Michael Maskin
The Homeless Aren't Any More Likely to Commit Crime 222
Despite dealing with the homeless often, the Brattleboro Police Department in Vermont believes that the homeless are no more likely to commit a crime than the non-homeless. Domenic Poli
Organizations to Contact 225