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Solving Homelessness

Ways to address and end a national crisis
Almond Butterscotch
Photo by Almond Butterscotch is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED.

Homeless camps were bulldozed on January 18, 2024 around 10am leaving many without any kind of shelter. Bulldozer was reporter to start on homeless camp located in East Wheeling, W.Va. above the Nelson Jordan Center. The residences of this camp were awoken by city officials telling them they needed to vacate their campsites which would be destroyed at 10 a.m.

Dr. William Mercer, a member of Project HOPE in Wheeling told W.Va. News he witnessed the bulldozer start the work. He told the reporter that his main concern was the lack of sufficient notice given to the homeless individuals affected by the clear out.

In an article written by WTOV 9 it says “The lines of communication between the city and the homeless were weak

“With the bulldozing of these camps many are without their belongings or a place to sleep when the temperatures are low.

There is also a ongoing ACLU lawsuit and 30 local religion leaders and medical professionals urged the city not to destroy the camps, they still proceeded to dismantle the encampment.

“Destroying what little shelter these community members have does nothing to solve the crisis of homelessness in our communities. In fact, it greatly exacerbates the problem,” ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said.

Bulldozer placing belongs of homeless camps residents in a sump truck to be removed from the camp. Photo by Justice Husaon with permission

Though many have been affected by the bulldozing of these camps, Wheeling is not the only place to be impacted by the homeless crisis. Homelessness is a real problem around the world. According to homeless World Cup as many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing out of 8 billion living on this planet. 1375 individuals experiencing homelessness on any given night in WV as of January 2022.
Homelessness is an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or places not mean for habitation. There are many types of homelessness people face such as transitional, episodic, chronic, and hidden homelessness

W.Va. once housed a robust coal mining industry and supplied 27% of American’s, coal but today is the fourth poorest state in the country with rampant food insecurity and deadly opioid crisis.
As winter has arrived, the number of people living outdoors in West Virginia continues to climb. Although the state has one of the lowest homelessness rates in the country, the number of those living permanently outside is the highest it’s been since 2015 according to mountain state spotlight.
West Virginia Department of Education reported over 10,000 children & youth have been identified as homeless in the 2018-2019 school year.

The three leading causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, unemployment, and poverty. The leading cause of homelessness among women is domestic violence reported by homeless laws.
People experiencing homelessness are often negatively misrepresented in society. There are many stereotypes when it comes to the homeless community. Some of these stereotypes according to Father Joe’s Villages are all homeless struggle with mental health issues and substance use disorders while this does affect some it doesn’t affect all. Some other stereotypes are that homeless people are lazy or want to be homeless.

According to the main affect of being homelessness are Cardio-Respiratory diseases, Tuberculosis, Skin diseases, Nutritional deficiencies, Sleep deprivation, Mental Illness, Physical and sexual assault, Drug dependency, Mortality, HIV/AIDS, Loss of self esteem, Becoming institutionalized, Increase in substance misuse, Loss of ability and will to care for oneself, Increased danger of abuse and violence, Increased chance of entering the criminal justice system, and Development of behavioral problems.

On the website it says, “Many homeless children Homeless children have twice the rate of a learning disabilities and three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems of non-homeless children.”

Counts of Children in 2018-2019 identified as homeless: Based on Nighttime Residence, including Shelters: Transitional living shelters, domestic violence shelters , youth shelters, or family shelter Doubled Up: Sharing housing of other persons due to economic hardship, loss of housing, or other reasons Unsheltered: Living in cars, parks, campgrounds, temporary trailers, or abandoned buildings Hotels/Motels: Motet motel, or similar accommodations (daily/weekly cares) Data Courtesy/WV Department of Education.

In an interview with fox 11 Susan a homeless woman who stand at the corner Pennsylvania Avenue and Lee Street in Charleston W.Va. says, “It’s really hard out here and in some aspects, it doesn’t seem as hard as it was just to be poor,”. In the say interview she said, “But people look at you like you don’t exist or like you’re beneath them and sometimes that’s the worst part.”

One misconception is the homelessness only effect the homeless but that is not true. According to “Homelessness isn’t someone else’s issue. It has a ripple effect throughout the community. It impacts the availability of healthcare resources, crime and safety, the workforce, and the use of tax dollars. Further, homelessness impacts the present as well as the future.”

Unemployment/financial reasons making up 46% of why someone would experience homelessness report by social in novation. Most people think that homelessness would be fixed if the homeless would “just get a job” and some say “they don’t want to work” well this is exactly the truth as many as 40% to 60% of people experiencing homelessness have a job according to

A big reason homelessness can’t be solved by people just getting job is that housing is unaffordable because wages can’t keep up with the rise in rents. There is no county or state where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a modest apartment according to

There are many ways to help the homeless community. Promote shelters is one way to help According to Homeless shelters provide a safe and supportive environment for those who are experiencing homelessness. Most homeless shelters provide the most basic needs. Shelters can reduce crime and by providing a safe environment for individuals who could otherwise have to commit a crime in order to survive.

For some homeless people, shelter from the elements can be matter of life and death. Without shelters homeless individuals and people can be at risk of death or injury on the streets.
“When modern homelessness first emerged in the late 1970s, thousands of homeless New Yorkers were forced to fend for themselves on the streets, in parks, in the subway system and in other public spaces. At that time, hundreds of unsheltered homeless people died each year, many from hypothermia and other cold-related injuries.”

According to Bartlett housing solutions donating items is a great way to support the homeless community. By donating items, you are bringing relief from the struggles some are dealing with on a daily basis. Donating clothing is let homeless individuals find their way to an independent and productive life.

Fundraising is another way to help the homeless community it helps them gather funds for food, let them have access to emergency healthcare and can help homeless shelter to be able to accommodate more homeless people is a solution from

There are ways we can help with small efforts giving like food, coupons or gift certification.
Also, one way you can personal help the homeless community is by remembering that even though someone is homeless that don’t make them less human. People experiencing homelessness deserve kindness. Ways to give kindness to those struggling with homelessness is make eye contact, smile ,say good morning and make two lunches and give one away.

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About the Contributor
Hailey Hans
Hailey Hans, Business Manager
Hello! My name is Hailey Hans. I am a sophomore at Weir High School.  This is my second year on WSM staff. I am on the girls track team. I serve as the class of 2026 treasure and WSM business Manager. I’m part of GAA and Pep club. Things I like are the beach, my cats, Zach Bryan, and the color green. I like journalism because it’s a way to share my opinion and also share information with others. I mostly like to write articles about thing that are important to me and I think my audience would find interesting. After high school I plan to attend WVU and major in criminal justice with a minor in journalism. I would love to one day be a investigative reporter.
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