|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Public administration Social issue|
Homelessness in Brevard County, Florida does not only touch on the need for people to live a dignified life but also a predisposing factor to various social issues such as crime, drug abuse and a general deterioration of public security. Homelessness in Brevard is increasingly becoming a common problem with families forced to sleep in their cars or the open space due to lack of a house. The primary cause for homelessness here is attributed to the rising cost of buying homes. While homes are there, only fewer families and individuals can afford to buy them. According to Isadora (2017), the high cost of acquiring a home in Brevard County has resulted in people resorting to rental houses. Due to this, there is an increasing demand for the rental apartments which then has caused a surge in their prices. The rent in Melbourne, for example, increased more than 10% in 2017 from 2016, and the trend is expected to continue unless concerned agencies take remedial steps.
Isadora (2017) shows that an average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Palm Bay which is the largest city in Brevard is $1,180 while a one bedroom house is $930. These figures well illustrate the problem of homelessness in the county. With the high rent, it means that more than 50% of residents in Brevard County have to spend more than 30% of their income on rent alone. With about 12% of the households in the county falling below the federal poverty level, they are unable to pay regular rent. Even the households that live above the poverty line find it challenging to meet the basic cost of living in Brevard. Therefore, the families find it a dilemma to choose between meeting other pressing needs such as health, food, education and the high costs of renting a house. The result is that most decide to sleep in their vehicles or on the street alleys. The problem of homelessness in Brevard s further compounded by the fact that the organization that addresses housing there such as Community of Hope heavily rely on grants and donor funds. The financial involvement of the state and federal government in developing affordable and decent housing in the county has slowed in the recent past. Hence the problem persists.
While homelessness is a problem in itself, it is highly associated with societal challenges such as the rise in street gangs, drug abuse and trafficking, dropouts, and a general deterioration of social order. Housing is a basic human need; hence when the people are unable to access it then they become desperate. Such desperation is the primary push factor into crime and other forms of vices. For instance, Isadora (2017) shows that in 2017, homelessness was linked to various cases of incarceration, health complications and the need to improve law enforcement. The county of Brevard has to contend with the problem of having to spend almost $28 million annually in incarceration, prosecution, education, law enforcement, and health care costs. Homeless children undergo various forms of psychological distress which lower their education outcomes (McCoy-Roth, Mackintosh, & Murphey, 2012). Homelessness also predisposes people to contagious diseases, insecurity, desperation and psychological distress which fundamentally undermine their quality of life.
Functionalist sociological perspective
The functionalist sociological perspective which gained prominence among the sociologists in the 1940s and 50s provides a clear picture of how society operates. According to this perceptive, a community is a composite of various parts which are interdependent and contribute to how it functions as well as its general stability. In essence, each part of the society is intricately interconnected to each other so that they run seamlessly in a way that maintains societal operations (Mooney, 2012). For instance, the government provides affordable and accessible education to children from whose families they depend on for government revenue that keeps it operational. Structural functionalism interprets the society as a composite of various parts which collectively contributes to its stability. In this regard, the society is seen as a more than just the different components that make it but rather each of its parts is functional for the stability of the whole (Mooney, 2012). The perspective typically draws from human organ systems in which every part depends on the functioning of the other. The failure of one part means that the entire system fails.
The broader concept of social functionalist looks at the society as comprising of various institutions that are each designed to fulfill different needs. The functioning or otherwise of any of institutions have a consequence on the others. Some of the traditional institutions within the concept of social functionalism include the family, government, media, education, religion and the economy (Mooney, 2012). According to this concept, the institutions only exist as long as they serve the vital role for which they are established, but once they become irrelevant or obsoleted, then they automatically cease to exist. In the case where an institution fails, new ones are created to meet the needs and keep the system operating. The functionalist concept emphasizes that if all the parts that constitute the society operates in harmony and seamlessly, it is easy to attain social order, stability, and productivity. Furthermore, the perspective underscores that the society operates through social consensus in which the sustainability of every process depends on its endorsement to by society as a whole (Mooney, 2012). Without the agreement then parts of the system begin to disintegrate which if not deliberately addressed may result in an overall collapse of the entire system.
Applying functionalist sociological perspective to homelessness in Brevard County Florida
The fundamental issue in the problem of homelessness in Brevard City is the inability of people to purchase homes which them to overly in rental houses whose rents are already skyrocketing. While the economy of the county and Florida at large may appear to be performing well, the underlying problem of homelessness threatens to undercut such economic achievements. For instance, it is only the households with the high disposable income in the county can afford a regular rent and the cost of buying homes. This means everybody in the society may be erroneously seen as having a high standard of living with their welfare well met.
From a functionalist standpoint, homelessness results in depression, the inability of children to regularly attend school and a feeling of exclusion among the people (Daiski, 2007). This state of mind prevents such people from actively working to contribute to economic growth. The children who drop out of school implies that in the future, there is no guaranteed revenue stream from them since they are likely to become jobless and continue in the vicious cycle of poverty and homelessness. Furthermore, homelessness results in the proliferation of various forms of crime such as burglary, homicides, drug abuse and trafficking, and the development of street gangs. Such trends imply that the public is unlikely to be safe. Homeless people may become a threat to public safety since they have an engendered feeling of exclusion and disenfranchisement. The homeless are also vulnerable to contagious diseases. This implies an additional cost on law enforcement and public health expenditure (Isadora Rangel, 2017). The net effect is that the society does not attain the desired social and economic progress. Therefore, from the perspectives of sociological functionalism, it is important to promote the wellbeing of the homeless people by providing them with accessible, affordable and decent homes. A structural functionalist would consider the programs and policies that have proven to be useful in the prevention of homelessness and how solving the problem contributes to the general wellbeing of the entire society.
Daiski, I. (2007). Perspectives of homeless people on their health and health needpriorities. Journal of advanced nursing, 58(3), 273-281. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04234.x
Isadora Rangel (2017, Nov 22). Rangel: Becoming homeless is getting easier in Brevard County. Florida Today. Retrieved from https://www.sadowskicoalition.org/rangel-becoming-homeless-is-getting-easier-in-brevard-county/.
McCoy-Roth, M., Mackintosh, B. B., & Murphey, D. (2012). When the bough breaks: The effects of homelessness on young children. Child Trends.
Mooney, L. A. (2012). Understanding social problems. Toronto: Nelson Education.
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