Homelessness as a Social Problem

TOPIC For this assignment, we will address a large scale social problem in the U.S. – homelessness.  Our textbook does not deal directly with this subject, although there is a discussion of housing matters in the U.S. in Chapter 6 on Problems of Place.  You may also find Chapter 7 on Poverty useful in thinking about the problem of homelessness. RESEARCH There are two kinds of research required for this paper.  The first is traditional library research of scholarly sources and analysis of homelessness.  The second is local community research.  Most of us in the class live in areas where homelessness exists to one degree or another.  Begin working on this paper by finding out what you can about the extent of homelessness in your area and the problems and possible solutions associated with it.  A topic search on “homeless” in the local newspaper(s) is a good way to begin.  Find an organization in your area that works to reduce homelessness, and/or to provide assistance to homeless people.  These may be nonprofit organizations, city or county programs, church-related programs, or other kinds of outreach or public service groups.  Choose one program to use as an example in your paper.  To gather information about the organization, there are several possibilities: a personal visit to an organization, the organization’s website if they have one, or local news coverage, for example. ANALYSIS Chapter 1 on the Sociological Approach to Social Problems introduces you to two concepts you will need for this paper.  The first is a Sociological Imagination.  The second is the idea of a “Person-Blame Approach” to understanding Social Problems as contrasted with a “Systems-Blame Approach.”   In your community, where do you find evidence of a person-blame approach and evidence of a systems-blame approach?  These are always at odds in one way or another, and the conflict between them is one reason social problems persist.  What are one or two things you think would make the most difference in your community in reducing homelessness?  What are the most important one or two things we might do nationally to reduce homelessness?  Remember to keep your analysis framed sociologically within what we are studying this month. Length and Format The finished paper should be 5 – 7 double spaced pages. Your paper must use (APA) or (MLA) in-text citations and include a title page and a reference page.  There is an APA Guide posted in Course Resources.  Links to both MLA and APA guides can also be found by visiting the National University Library Website.

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