Nowadays there are a lot of unstable and negative factors that contribute to the emergence of the long list of community social problems. This research paper will examine homelessness among the people with mental illness residing in Maricopa County, Arizona as one of the social problems that require efficient and immediate solution.
Homelessness is a complex phenomenon of social and economic nature associated with the absence of permanent habitation. This issue can affect anyone and it can be caused by the myriads of factors, such as disability, domestic violence, poverty, financial difficulties associated with inability to rent an apartment, psychological issues and depression, loss of a job or support of the family, etc. Homelessness can affect people of any ethnic, gender or age groups, however, we will consider the group of mentally ill individuals in details as an example.

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Let us examine the following statistics prepared by the Arizona Homeless Coordination Office:

“The January 2008 PIT survey of emergency shelter and transitional housing facilities identified 1,260 individuals believed to be seriously mental ill (SMI). This represents 24 percent of the 5,286 sheltered homeless adults and unaccompanied youth counted. Just over 50 percent of those reported as SMI were also said to be experiencing substance abuse problems.” (Wareing, 2008, p.7).

We can observe a high percentage of mentally ill persons among homeless people due to the fact that severe mental issues prevent a human being from sound functioning within the society, having a job and building relationships with other people. Most common mental problems affecting the homeless are schizophrenia, psychiatric symptoms, deep depression, multiple personalities, bipolar disorder, etc. Homeless people with severe mental illnesses are forced to live on the street below the poverty line partially due to inability to afford renting an apartment due to high price for rent regardless receiving subsidies, disability insurance, food stamps, etc. Even worse, mentally ill people would not be allowed to rent an apartment by the landlords even if having sufficient funds for paying rent. Such discrimination is making living in an apartment to be impossible for the mentally ill.

Numerous issues such as homelessness stand up as challenges for the local and global societies that have to be resolved. For this reason, a powerful instrument of service programs was developed to set the strategic approach intended to resolve the emerging negative trends. The majority of human service programs share common features and objectives, such as provision of benefits for specific group of people, raising funds, support by nonprofit organizations, etc. Gray Land is one of the numerous organizations that developed specific approach for fighting homelessness in the local area.

Gray Land nonprofit organization is striving to meet the above-mentioned challenge and provide homeless people with persistent mental disabilities with housing in Maricopa County. Besides that, Gray Land is conducting a comprehensive analytic analysis by collecting and examining the data about the homeless with mental illnesses, developing most rational solutions, and implementing the best practices that have already been introduced in other areas. The study conducted by the organization showed that the mentally ill are disproportionately poor compared to individuals without mental disabilities. In addition, it was assumed that the poverty rate for the people without mental illnesses is three times less than for mentally healthy persons (Wareing, 2008, p.7). Gray Land has adopted the “Housing first” approach that provides permanent supporting housing for the mentally ill homeless and it ensures security, community-based services, affordable price for ret, and permanent residency provided the payment for rent is paid.

  • Pawlak, E.J. & Vinter, R.D. (2004). Exploring the nature of program planning. Designing and planning programs for nonprofit and governmental organizations. pp.3-19. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.
  • Wareing, T L. “Current Status of Homelessness in Arizona and Efforts to Prevent and Alleviate Homelessness .” 1 Sep. 2016. .