The problem of homelessness is a problem that has increased exponentially in America. With the economic turmoil, coupled with physical and mental health illness many Americans are not able to afford or capable of having stable housing. In the instance of children who are living with homeless parents or families experiencing significant housing instability it is a dire situation.

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The Motel Kids of Orange presents sobering images of homelessness. Families living in areas that have a high cost of living may not be able to have a legitimate apartment. Unfortunately, many people are forced to live in motels on a weekly basis. These motels often have health hazards. One major issue that presents itself is the presence of lice and bedbugs. Motel owners often do not change the sheets or get rid of beds infected with bedbugs. Bedbugs often lead to welts and infections on the skin. It would be a plausible public health initiative to supply medication for lice bed bugs to families. It is also an option to supply motel owners with heating machines that kill bed bugs. In addition to this suggestion, it would make sense for all public health offices to provide a significant amount of cost-free mental health services to children.

Many children of families that are homeless suffer from mental health problems. The stress and trauma of being homeless can trigger emotions that children have a hard time coping with. Outreach efforts are lacking in quality and frequency in many housing districts. Often times, parents are not able to get children to a provider that can perform an assessment. Instituting outreach events would be beneficial. Additionally, these outreach events could link children with mental health providers that can meet with them weekly (Lynch, Wood, Livingwood, Smotherman, Goldhagen, Wood, 2015). A question I’d like to post to classmates is: As nurses, what can we do to help the homeless population?

  • Lynch, S., Wood, J., Livingood, W., Smotherman, C., Goldhagen, J., & Wood, D. (2015). Feasibility of shelter-based mental health screening for homeless children. Public Health Reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974), 130(1), 43.