Life Without a Glass Castle While reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, several themes began to pop up periodically throughout the book which dealt with social issues including alcoholism, bullying, poverty, and neglect. She gives great detail about the main events in her life and how she was molded into the human being she is today. These difficulties contributed to the family’s struggle to maintain stability, and Jeannette’s family moved frequently when she was growing up. In a five year span, they moved a total of twenty- seven times. Between moving house to house, they lived out of heir vehicles for a while.
Jeannette Walls tells us about her homeless childhood in The Glass Castle and many people today deal with the same types of struggles. Homelessness is often misunderstood because there are many definitions and there are multiple words that sound similar or have similar definitions. The United Nations broke up homelessness into two broad groups. Primary Homelessness includes people living on the streets in shelters that would not be classified as living conditions. Secondary Homelessness includes people who do not have a usual place of residence. They move from place to place, including institutions.
Living in a private home not registered on the census or reported as “no usual address” would also fall under the term Secondary Homelessness (“Homelessness”). The official definition of a homeless individual, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council is an individual who does not have a house or whose primary residence at night is a supervised public or private facility such as a shelter that provides living accommodations. They go on to explain it as any individual living in any unstable or non-permanent situation (“State”).
People who are referred to as homeless often prefer the term houseless or street people. They think of the word homeless as a derogatory term when in their mind they are only without a house for the time being. The overall rate for homeless people in the United States is a little more than 18 people for every 10,000 people. From 2013 to 2014 thirty-four of the states in the United States saw a decrease in the percentage of homeless people while seventeen states including Washington D. C. saw an increase in the overall percentage of homeless people. Ohio saw a decrease of 4. 1 ercent during that time span (“State”).
The total number of homeless people in the United States is 564,708 people according to the most recent poll taken in 2015 (“State”). The last time a poll was taken from the total number of homeless people in the world was 2005 conducted by the United Nations. It said that the estimated total number of homeless people in the world was 100 million people (“Global”). This means that the United States only accounts for a little more than . 5% of the total number of homeless people. The number of people homeless in the United States has declined greatly since 1960 hen it reached over 22%.
The percentage now is just under 16% and is continuing to decline due to the rise in government funds being put into Low-Income Programs (“Poverty”). The United States went through a recession in the mid 1950s, and a little after this time in 1962 the government decided they needed to provide more aid to people struggling with homelessness. They put almost twenty-five billion dollars into Low-Income Programs to provide relief to the homeless. This number has continued to rise and is now over five hundred billion dollars annually, which has greatly helped in reducing the umber of homeless people in the United States (“Poverty”).
One of the reasons why people are homeless is because they are unable to maintain a job or are unemployed for a various number of reasons. Unemployment can result in the incapability of paying rent or loans back on a house becoming a big cause for why people are homeless. Since 1950 and before the unemployment is constantly shifting up and down, but it is slowly rising. The United States never fully recovered from the previous economic shift so the percentage of unemployed is getting larger. In 1950 the unemployment rate was steadily ecreasing and got just below 3%.
After the large spike in unemployment in 2010 it has continued to decline for the next five years. It is now at 5%, but with the struggle of the stock market this year and the trends of the past the unemployment rate is due for another swing around 2016 (“Unemployment”). Another reason why people could be homeless is because they are suffering from a physical disability or a mental illness such as an addiction. A study was taken in Los Angeles for the number of older homeless adults struggling with a disability and the numbers were very high. % of theses adults reported a disability and 89% of those reported were physical disabilities.
Veterans who are homeless seem to have a greater chance of a disability than those who have not served. This makes sense considering they served in the military and ran a much greater risk defending their country than if they would have been in safer situations and not served. Natural disasters are uncontrollable and many people have become homeless due to a natural disaster that wiped out their home. Many people lack insurance on their home and cannot afford to start over and ompletely build a new house.
These events can lead to poverty and life on the streets. People who become homeless due to natural disasters tend to be homeless for a shorter period of time because they receive much more government benefit than if they were homeless from other causes (“Homeless”). If people are struggling with homelessness there are multiple ways to get themselves back on track. They could live in a community house to cut down on the cost if they are unable to pay rent on their own. At elections, they can vote for the politician who believes in aising the government aid to help out the homeless.
If these opportunities do not help then there are multiple charities and foundations across the United States to help the homeless such as the Homeless Families Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Foundation Homeless. In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls talks about how her family, her parents specifically, lived homeless lives from time to time and how they coped with it. Jeannette’s Mom said “Being homeless is an adventure. (The Glass Castle)” This is just one of the few things that the parents said to appeal o the children that being homeless was not so bad.
The parents said it so often that they started to believe it themselves and at times in the novel enjoyed being homeless. Some people would say the reason why the Walls were homeless was because the parents were suffering from a mental illness, but there are multiple reasons why they were living on the streets. Rex could not hold a job and Rose Mary did not like to work unless the kids were about to starve to death. Rex was always gambling away their money and had a drinking problem while Rose Mary had a sugar addiction.
These are just a few of the reasons why the Walls were homeless, but the list could go on for a while. Many people today struggle with homelessness just as Jeannette Walls struggled with homelessness in her childhood. Most people are homeless because they are down on their luck or are going through a rough time not by choice. If others are in a situation where they are able to donate then they should and feel good knowing they are doing the right thing. Together through donations and volunteering our time we can stop people from becoming homeless one step at a time.