Living in New York City as the case of any major city throughout the world one of the many daily occurrences you encounter is that of homelessness. As I walk into the subway and sit down I expect some person claiming to be homeless and needing some help. I actually see the same person sometimes multiple times a week asking for money. I used to be pretty generous and give money to the homeless(especially if they had a visible handicap) but then one day I asked myself a question about why were there so many people who were homeless and what policy can be put into place to really address the problem.
First and foremost homelessness, particularly in NYC, gets over exaggerated. About less the one percent of New Yorkers are homeless. And to further break the number down most homeless people suffer from either substances abuse or mental illness which inhibits them from carrying out basic life necessities such holding a steady job or maintaining basic hygiene. If you want to alleviate homelessness more mental health hospitals and fewer shelters would prove much more effective. Now can we go around and put every homeless person who we suspect to be crazy and rush them to a mental institution no( at least not exactly) It would best be done through a system where a homeless person breaks a law such as public urination or vagrancy and having a psychiatrist do an evaluation to see if that person is susceptible to go into society and of course getting the person to consent to be institutionalized (unless the person is deemed a danger to himself or others and such consent wouldn’t be needed).
And second, the idea that I am going to give every homeless person who asks me for money throughout my day my hard earn cash to encourage them further to beg doesn’t help anybody. It came to me one day that many homeless people actually are already receiving government assistance through disability and SSI checks that they beg because they know they can get over on people. A typical New York City subway train contains ten cars. So if you were homeless and ambitious enough to beg for money on every subway car and get at least two people to give you a dollar you can earn twenty dollars per train. You hit five trains in a day you can make up to a hundred dollars a day just begging for money(untaxed mind you). So homelessness for some can be pretty lucrative.
If you don’t buy my point look at how the Japanese deal with their homeless issues. Which can best be explained by watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK–oCVP18A. I myself had gotten a chance to visit Tokyo a few years back and was struck by how different homelessness was over there than it is here. First, no homeless person can ever be seen begging, Second I didn’t encounter any homeless person that reeked of foul odor as is the case In NYC(whole subway carts will be emptied just because passengers can’t take the smell of some the homeless person in it.). Third most homeless people live in these makeshift communities in the Tokyo subway systems.
I do believe that we should help people who are down on their luck for their sake and ours but I just think we’re going the wrong way about it. And that by having an honest and more open dialogue we’ll really help these down trodden individuals.