Sample Sociology Paper on Homelessness in California

A drastic rise in homelessness was experienced in the 1980s in the United States, leading to numerous studies, and an introduction of the Homeless Assistance Act in July 1987 (Lee et al.2016). However, finding a place for the homeless remains a constant political problem in various locations in California. No accurate estimation exists on the exact number of homeless people there are in California and the country at large (Lee et al.2016). Policymakers use influence on the housing market as a necessary tool to alleviate homelessness. Intruding in people’s lives, including the homeless ones, do not occur well with Americans. However, if homelessness were treated more like a drug, or schizophrenia, then naturally intrusive intervention would seem like the right solution (Lee et al.2016). Using the housing market to alleviate homelessness does not work as many people don’t intervene in those markets. Government policies build and at the same time, tear houses down. Thus, only quiet systems are available to mitigate homelessness (Lee et al.2016). Homelessness increase in the 1980s and still stands at a historical level (Raven, 2016). The issue on homelessness has raised debates over the years, and an explanation falls into primary categories. First, personal engagements and habits of the homeless fall on alcoholism, addiction from drug-related substances, mental disorder promoted by changes in social policies towards the illness (Raven, 2016). Mental illness has a direct connection with homelessness. Also, the decline in low-income housing units, as well as a falloff in the federal housing program. Secondly, the emphasis on the economics of the low rent housing markets as the sole cause for increased homelessness has taken place (Raven, 2016). Similarly, the demolition of residential occupancy units and reasonable housing further promotes the problem. The inadequate funding by the federal government for construction of low-income units has also made people homeless (Lee et al.2016). The highlighted factors have contributed to homelessness, but personal attributes have played a vital role in accelerating the situation.

         Factors promoting homelessness

Consequently, a central argument comes from the unequal distribution of income that makes people homeless. A rise in income inequality across a population translates to a high demand for low-quality houses in place for middle-quality housing (Raven, 2016). The high- income demand for housing lead many to choose street life as they can’t match the high costs of housing. Income inequality has continued to grow in California that the country as a whole; thus, the difference between the rich and the poor continues to widen (Lee et al.2016). The construction of new houses takes place at a particular quality threshold. If the housing units don’t maintain their initial quality level, they tend to depreciate.  Many of the United States housing use this theory. Housing structures have become modernized, and interior quality of amenities continues to increase (Lee et al.2016). The high-quality housing targets middle-income earners with increased incomes. Single parenting is another factor contributing to the level of homelessness in California (Raven, 2016). A low-income family with both parents has a lower chance of becoming homeless as compared to one of a single parent. The only parenting comes with instabilities that make it hard for the development of strong bonds that could come into play during crises (Lee et al.2016). Lack of a safety social net also makes one homeless as not having people one could turn to during a stressful situation would eventually make them homeless. The use of temporary shelters has failed to manage the situation effectively (Lee et al.2016). Many of those shelters accommodate women, families, the newly homeless, and others seek refuge in cars. Some people refrain from using these shelters as they view them as infantilizing experience (Raven, 2016). Other accommodations that have a ninety-day limit demoralize those individuals by returning them to their homeless state.


Besides, homelessness is a critical issue and its complex nature call for policy interventions. Federal system in the Housing Act 1937 was seeking to offer Americans decent homes. In the year 1937 to 1962, all low rent-housing were built and operated by the government (Lee et al.2016). In 1974, the connection between new constructions and low-income housing ended. The creation of new houses was the only provision by the federal government for twenty-five years. The program by the federal government continues to elicit significant demand. Nevertheless, public housing experienced substantial trouble due to the inconsistent demand that surrounded the program (Raven, 2016). Government project running fell to the Local Housing Authorities (LHA). LHA had to correct rent income to meet its operations, while the federal government meant the capital cost (Lee et al.2016). The move by LHA to replace capital cost with operation cost was quickly identified. Actions to subsidize input other than output quantities resulted in increased taxpayers cost to about 40 percent in comparison to the houses constructed (Lee et al.2016). The inconsistencies that arise from relying on public offer of low-income housing come from dependency on LHA (Lee et al.2016). Public housing can only come into play through the creation of LHA. The nature of LHA comes from a local consensus for the same. Once in operation, the LHA gathers poor people in the identified neighborhoods (Raven, 2016). Today, the trend to move past the existing housing to stop the housing burden has adjusted from project to tenant use, housing subsidies to state and local programs that depend on federal funding. The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 created a channel for more undertaking by the private sector in offering affordable housing (Raven, 2016). Section 8 withdrew a vital element of previous programs; subsidies no longer posed restrictions to upcoming or existing rehabilitations (Lee et al.2016). The new provisions allowed the landlord to accept payment in place of a tenant other than a specific unit. Tenant-based subsidies began to dominate the program.

Measures to reduce homelessness

The reluctance to provide finance for new public housing grew, leading to reliance by subsidy housing on recycled dwellings (Ravenhill, 2016). The only existing program for the provision of new houses for low-income people is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) enacted by the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Public-private partnership project comes up as inappropriate use of federal funds (Lee et al.2016). Hence, the existing tax credit gets assigned a limited amount. Politically feasible actions for finding homes for the homeless include; adjustable shelter provision programs that would help significantly in housing initiative. Secondly, the construction of houses for low-income tenants would help in the removal of homeless people in the streets. Using the existing dwellings could offer affordable housing (Raven, 2016). The elimination of tax receipts and embracing direct expenditure of tax dollars. The local government ought to control the place where the homeless get housed. Policies that look to maintain the standing units should come into play for continuous occupation rather than waiting for them to deteriorate and become demolished. Assessments and tax policies form appropriate tools (Lee et al.2016). A fundamental component by any system should maintain the low-rent housing stock. Three alternatives could come become implemented. First, the construction of new federal subsidies continues to have limitations (Ravenhill, 2016). Thus, keeping the existing houses occupied by low-income earners who otherwise chased would become homeless seems like the best option. Also, preserving low-rent units is less costly compared to starting up new ones of relative quality. Property neglect tends to follow similar trends such as reduced repairs, mortgage declines (Lee et al.2016). The most significant expenditure before abandonment revolves around property tax. Reduction in assessment would result in more savings. A decrease in abandonment and savings constitute to lower social spending, leading to increased fees and benefit-cost ratios. Property arrears facilitate the abandonment of property (Lee et al.2016). If a structure location is based in a neighborhood with declining characteristics, and the landlord predicts a situation the negligence is inevitable, a landlord could let the property fall into debt if the rent collected runs other expenses.

In conclusion, the section 8 voucher program provides a significant factor for the housing program for the homeless. The policy and other two tax policy alternatives offer fundamental solutions to the homelessness problem (Lee et al.2016). Housing markets remain heterogeneous, so do the very poor. The homeless consists of a small percentage gathered in small areas spread through many neighborhoods. The solution needs to come from one location to the other. The federal and the state government ought to broaden the feasible local alternatives (Ravenhill, 2016). The government could also diversify the section 8 program and compensate the provincial government for the lost revenues. Programs funded by the federal government aimed at benefiting the community; thus, both homeless and low-income earners should benefit from such programs (Ravenhil, 2016). The primary component of the policies should make low-quality housing more accessible, and potentially as a byproduct reduce homelessness. The federal and the state government should offer support to the localities will help stop the removal of habitual units (Lee et al.2010). Also, other complex elements such as job loss, which leads to family breakdown, addiction, and mental illness, were given more consideration, then social policies that contribute to best practices would have become more productive and reduce homelessness (Lee et al.2010). Therefore, the problem of homelessness relies more on the existing policies, and with a profound evaluation by the government and relevant institutions, the issue of homelessness will reduce drastically (Ravenhill, 2016).



Lee, B. A., Tyler, K. A., & Wright, J. D. (2010). The new homelessness revisited. Annual review of sociology36, 501-521.

Ravenhill, M. (2016). The culture of homelessness. Routledge.