How Should Homelessness Be Addressed?


According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “more than 326,000 people experienced sheltered homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2021.” This survey data, while offering a glimpse of insight into the nationwide issue, was gathered during the COVID-19 pandemic and does not fully encapsulate the entirety of people experiencing homelessness in the United States. In their report from 2020 before the pandemic began, the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that “there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America,” including both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness.

While homelessness is more prevalent among certain gender and ethnicity subgroups, homelessness in America impacts all types of individuals. And while homelessness is generally concentrated to the east and west coasts of the United States, it is widespread in countless urban, suburban, and rural communities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has offered multiple solutions to the issue that have had positive effects, but certain aspects of homelessness have remained unaddressed or have worsened through the public health crisis.

Ongoing discussion and debate centers on the role of the federal government, private organizations, public-private partnerships, and local and state governments in addressing homelessness. Common perspectives related to the issue include providing additional affordable housing options, providing career opportunities or financial assistance to those at risk or in need, and improving wrap-around services like mental health and substance abuse supports.

So, what should be done? This deliberation includes fourteen video clips, two articles, and several educational activities to guide students through a review of the history of homelessness in the United States and the contemporary arguments regarding potential solutions for the nationwide issue. After a careful review of multiple perspectives, students will determine what should be done about homelessness and be presented with several optional extensions to take an active role in the debate.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Students will be able to describe key vocabulary terms and concepts associated with the debate surrounding how to address homelessness.

  • Students will be able to identify and explain aspects of the debate of how best to address to homelessness, including those of increasing housing availability and improving affordability, providing financial assistance, and improving support services.

  • Students will be able to evaluate arguments related to addressing homelessness and formulate an opinion on this question.