Homelessness is a huge problem in this country, yet most people pass at least a few homeless people on the street everyday without hardly even noticing them. The film “Poverty in Chicago” included multiple interviews with the homeless in an attempt to humanize the people actively dealing with homelessness and the problems it causes. More specifically, The problem of homeless veterans A relatively recent article in the New York Times by Fernanda Santos reports on the growing problem of poverty and homelessness in other parts of the country, including Arizona.
Arizona has recently implemented a program to help out homeless veterans. Many veterans succumb to problems of drug addiction or alcoholism after their service and end up homeless. A statistic from 2011 shows that in Phoenix “there were 222 chronically homeless veterans here, a vulnerable, hard-to-reach population of mostly middle-age men, virtually all battling some type of physical or mental ailment along with substance abuse.”
Arizona has developed a housing program to assist veterans who deal with addiction and poverty to get sober and get them into a home to help remedy the widespread problem among veterans. For lots of people, the first step to sobering up is having a place to call home.
It may not seem like a lot based on the numbers, but Phoenix has become the first city to have a long term solution for chronically homeless veterans.
The people who create and advocate for solutions to end homelessness are typically very interested in creating housing for the homeless to bring them out of their situation.
While providing housing for the homeless seems like a logical step to giving them a great start to get back on their feet, Shklar would argue that without the earning power, they don’t have citizenship in the eyes of society. I can understand where Shklar is coming from with her ideas that earning power is a major part of citizenship since lack of income does limit independence.
The homeless can apply for benefits and get a place to live with these types programs, but there is not typically a work program. Something like Shkar’s idea of a “workfare” program would give people back the earning power that she deems so important. Earning power is certainly a key apsect of citizenship, but I am not convinced that it is most important. Especially with disabled veterans who are unable to work, there has to be something within having a place to live that constitutes citizenship, and not just in the act of earning.
What do you think: is it the earning power or the home that makes a citizen?