Tag Archives: poverty

For Richer or Poorer: What Works to Reduce Poverty in America?

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By Annie Davis (Public Interest Policy Scholar, APA)

How can we improve the economic wellbeing of American families? This was one of the issues that dominated the 2016 election cycle, with each candidate proposing a different way forward. Across party lines, we can all agree that poverty is harmful for our society. Research from psychology links poverty to negative physical and mental health outcomes – particularly for vulnerable groups like children and older adults.[1]

So what do we know about programs that effectively alleviate poverty? Most of our poverty data comes from the U.S. census, but this excludes many benefits shown to boost economic mobility.[2]

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM),[3] on the other hand, sheds more light.

The SPM provides a comprehensive picture of poverty in the U.S. by measuring household income, factoring in cash and non-cash benefits, and subtracting necessary expenses. This measure can be used to calculate the impact of individual safety net programs.

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit enables low- and moderate-income working individuals (primarily parents) to offset the impact of paying taxes, incentivize workforce participation, and provide income for necessary expenses. It raised 9.2 million people above the poverty line in 2015.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is monthly nutrition assistance for eligible low-income households to buy the food they need to be healthy. It raised 4.6 million people above the poverty line in 2015.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides support for low-income, nutritionally at-risk pregnant and postpartum women and young children (up to age 5), including food assistance, nutrition information, and referrals to medical and social services. It raised over 370,000 people above the poverty line in 2015.[4]

The huge impact of these programs adds to the massive reach of Social Security (26.6 million people raised above the poverty line).[5] These findings about the societal benefits of the safety net are consistent with data showing a 40% reduction in poverty since the beginning of the War on Poverty (and the creation of federal safety-net programs) in 1967.[6] The SPM unequivocally shows federal safety net programs work to protect low-income people from the harms of poverty, particularly those in marginalized groups.

The value of these programs is clear, not only in alleviating poverty but also in preventing the downstream effects of poverty on physical and mental health. However, these kinds of programs are constantly under threat in the current political climate. If they were to be further cut, as has been proposed, this would plunge more Americans into poverty, and the physical and psychological harms that ensue.

These include negative impacts on:

  • mental health,
  • family functioning,
  • cognitive functioning,
  • trauma/chronic stress, and
  • academic and professional success.[7]

APA will continue to advocate for programs that alleviate the burden of poverty. For example, APA has supported SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit, programs that lessen families’ financial strain and food insecurity, thereby reducing toxic stress and improving mental health.

Moreover, APA has recently supported legislation like the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (S. 786/H.R. 1439), which would guarantee paid leave following the birth of a child or during a serious health condition, with positive impacts on child development, maternal mental health, and family relations.

Help APA stand up for vulnerable Americans! Sign up for our Federal Action Network to contact your representatives about these issues.

References:

[1] Evans, G.W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. American Psychologist, 59, 77–92. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.59.2.77

[2] Bitler. M., & Hoynes, H. (2013). The more things change, the more they stay the same? The safety net and poverty in the Great Recession (NBER Working Paper No. 19449). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w19449

[3] Renwick, T., & Fox, L. (2016). The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2015 [U.S. Census Bureau, P60-258(RV)]. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

[4] Renwick & Fox, 2016

[5] Renwick & Fox, 2016

[6] Wimer, C., Fox, L., Garfinkel, I., Kaushal., N., & Waldfogel, J. (2013). Trends in poverty with an anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure (Working paper 13-01). New York, NY: Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC). Retrieved from https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/LISCenter/Readings%20for%20workshop/Madrick2.pdf

[7] Evans, G.W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. American Psychologist, 59, 77–92. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.59.2.77

Flouri, E., Midouhas, E., & Joshi, H. (2014). Family poverty and trajectories of children’s emotional and behavioural problems: The moderating roles of self-regulation and verbal cognitive ability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology42(6), 1043-1056.

Hudson, C.G. (2005). Socioeconomic status and mental illness: Tests of the social causation and selection hypotheses. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry75(1), 3.

Manseau, M. (2014). Economic inequality and poverty as social determinants of mental health. Psychiatric Annals, 44(1), 32-38. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00485713-20140108-06

Santiago, C.D., Wadsworth, M.E., & Stump, J. (2011). Socioeconomic status, neighborhood disadvantage, and poverty-related stress: Prospective effects on psychological syndromes among diverse low-income families. Journal of Economic Psychology32(2), 218-230.

Shonkoff, J.P. (2010). Building a new biodevelopmental framework to guide the future of early childhood policy. Child Development81(1), 357-367.

Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J.L., & Beardslee, W.R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: Implications for prevention. American Psychologist67(4), 272-284.

Biography:

Annie Davis is a Public Interest Policy Scholar at the American Psychological Association and a fourth year Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at The Catholic University of America. Her clinical and research interests center on mental health interventions for young children living in poverty.

 


Filed under: Poverty and Socioeconomic Status, Public Policy Tagged: Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, paid family and medical leave, poverty, poverty reduction, public policy, safety net programs, SNAP, social safety net, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, war on poverty

5 Ways to Teach Your Students about World Poverty

Erasing poverty

Jamie L. Franco-Zamudio, PhD (Associate Professor, Spring Hill College) with assistance from students, Paige E. Guillory and Claire M. Oswald

Although in observance since 1987, in 1992 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the resolution to designate October 17th as the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty”. On this day, and throughout the year, the International Committee for October 17 encourages us to raise awareness about the effects of living in extreme poverty and to develop action plans to eradicate poverty on the local, national, and international level. In 2015, they called for actions that are focused on building a sustainable future. The call included one important point—that our strategies should be developed in solidarity with people living in poverty because their expertise is essential for creating plans that will primarily affect their communities.

I teach about issues of economic justice in many of my classes, but this is the first year that I will formally observe what is also known as World Poverty Day. As I was brainstorming different ways to teach about poverty across the globe, I realized it would be beneficial to enlist the assistance of two undergraduate students. Together we developed this list of resources and activities.

You might choose to cite these resources in lectures or use them as content for assignments. For example, when teaching about disseminating information to a broad audience I ask students to create infographics, fact sheets, or policy briefs. My student, Claire Oswald, created the one below.

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Infographic by Claire Oswald: Healthcare and Poverty

 

1. Share these informational resources on global poverty

 

The website includes information about the goals of the initiative, and includes links to the 17 goals for sustainable development and the millennial goals for 2015 and beyond. There are links to fact sheets and informational videos on topics such as “Empowering Women”.  The bottom of the United Nations home page includes links to issues such as Zero Hunger Challenge and Refugees and Migrants.           

This report includes information about the effects of living in extreme poverty, outlines specific human rights, and lists the obligations of the international community to eliminate extreme poverty.

The website provides statistics describing what poor people think about poverty, illustrations of the poverty line, and graphs and charts illustrating the number of people living in poverty across the world.

The report includes recommendations to reduce prejudice and discrimination of people living in poverty and promote inclusion in the political process.

The website includes resources for developing partnerships, child labor, better working conditions, and improving living standards using local resources and employees.

This report illustrates the health and mental health outcomes for children living in poverty.

 

2. Screen these documentaries on global poverty

 

Poverty, Inc.

This is an excellent documentary describing how “charity” to impoverished countries is more paternalistic and self-serving than helpful. One reviewer, Peter Debruge, commented, “It all comes down to the old “give a man a fish” vs. “teach a man to fish” quandary, wherein donations provide a temporary fix, whereas training and help building connections to the world market could empower a way out.”

 

The True Cost

An excellent documentary describing the environmental, social, and psychological effects of “fast fashion.” A section of the film highlights the experiences of low-wage workers in Bangladesh.

 

Living on One Dollar a Day

This documentary illustrates what it is like to live on a dollar a day in rural Guatemala.

For a list of many other insightful documentaries about poverty, visit the Documentary Addict page.

 

3. Encourage your students to take action against poverty

  • Invite your students to sign a petition to end poverty
  • Provide students with links to volunteer at a local homeless shelter via the Homeless Shelter Directory.
  • Fundraise to provide a loan through Kiva to help someone start their own business.
  • Invite students to take action via the Results website, which provides links encourage legislators support policies to end world poverty.
  • Free Rice is an online “game” website that for points scored, rice is donated to feed the hungry.

 

4. Try these activities with your students so they can better understand poverty

  • Encourage your students to try to live on a limited budget by participating in the online challenge at Spent.
  • Spend the day participating in a poverty simulation.

 

5. Assign the following readings to your students

This book focuses on the work of Dr. Paul Farmer whose life calling was to provide healthcare to communities in need in Haiti, Cuba, Peru, and Russia. Dr. Farmer asserts, “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world” and “For me, an area of moral clarity is: you’re in front of someone who’s suffering and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act.”

For more books about world poverty, visit The Borgen Project.

This paper by Dr. Heather Bullock is sponsored by the National Poverty Center. We encourage you to review the references for additional relevant articles.

This website includes links to resources, readings, and information regarding how to help.

 

Below, Paige Guillory, one of my students, provides a great example of her learning experiences regarding global poverty.

 

A Case of Service and Immersion: Paige Guillory Shares her Experiences

Immersion Trips

Paige has travelled to several different countries with the Spring Hill College International Service and Immersion Program (ISIP) and partners such as International Samaritan, Mustard Seed Communities, Hand in Hand Ministries, and Caribbean Social Immersion Program.

“After being very fortunate to travel internationally to experience global poverty and serve where you can, it is important to return home, tell the stories of those you met, and do what you can to give to those you met or serve your local community in similar ways. After traveling to the Dominican Republic (DR) and meeting Haitian migrant children at a shelter in the DR, our ISIP group returned home to share their stories, raise money for their shelter, and bring awareness to the problems surrounding immigration. We created a website to easily share what we experienced and what we planned to accomplish.”

 

Learning from Local Issues

“As important as it is to serve those in poverty globally, especially in very poor, underdeveloped countries, there is so much local poverty surrounding us that needs immediate attention as well.

For example, it is important to realize that every local tragedy, natural disaster, or devastating situation in a local community affects those living in poverty in very different, and usually more devastating, ways. In Louisiana, where the dangerous flooding that occurred in mid-August of 2016, thousands of families lost their homes, businesses, and possessions in a very quick few days. In looking at where the flooding caused the worse damage, many poor communities with lacking resources, the inability to safely evacuate, and unfortunate home locations near bayous, canals, and rivers suffered the most damage. It is a harsh reality to realize that those living in poverty are more at risk for losing their lives and possessions when disasters occur locally. Being aware of these setbacks should call us to rethink our education, healthcare, disaster relief, and political systems to better accommodate those who are at greater risk for failure and setbacks. Although not everyone was able to realize that the flooding in Louisiana affected those in poorer communities to a greater and more devastating degree, the community of south Louisiana and those who have come from out-of-state to help rebuild our community, provide support, and donate needed items have seen that Louisiana is a community that gives to our neighbors in times of need.”

You might choose to plan a weekend volunteer day. For example, the students at her college spent the day with NOLA Tree Project gutting four of the over 100,000 homes damaged in the flood.

wpdgraphic

Pictured: Paige Guillory taking down molding drywall

 

 

Author Biographies:

Jamie Franco-Zamudio, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Spring Hill College. Her current research addresses the benefits of experiential learning and service-learning for social justice outcomes. Franco-Zamudio is a member of the Governing Council of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and is currently serving as Co-Chair of the SPSSI Teaching and Mentoring Committee. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Lifelines Counseling Services in Mobile, AL.

Paige Guillory is a senior student at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL but originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society and is currently studying Biology, Psychology, and Biochemistry. She plans to pursue a Medical Degree and Masters of Public Health in the hopes of becoming a physician.

Claire Oswald is senior health sciences major with a psychology minor at Spring Hill College. She plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy. She is a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology and the American Medical Student Association. She has participated in many social justice endeavors, including the Ignatian Teach-In and 3 years of participation in the International Service Immersion Program.


Filed under: Poverty and Socioeconomic Status Tagged: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, poverty, poverty reduction, student resources, teaching, World Poverty Day

Health and Healthcare Injustice: Why We Really Should Care About HIV Disparities

red aids ribbon in hand.

By Alyssa Arentoft, PhD (California State University, Northridge) & Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD (Fordham University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps nowhere are health and healthcare inequities so glaring as in HIV.

In the early years of the HIV epidemic, when we knew little about the virus and no viable treatment existed, HIV was viewed as a death sentence. During the 1990s and early 2000s, advances in medical and pharmacological treatment transformed HIV into a chronic, long-term condition. Concerns have now shifted from simply surviving HIV to living and hopefully thriving with the virus.

Much has changed since HIV first gripped the nation. Sadly, one thing remains constant—HIV continues to take its largest toll on our society’s most vulnerable, resulting in pervasive health and healthcare disparities.

So, what are health and healthcare disparities?

A health disparity exists when a particular group of people is more significantly affected by a condition than the general public.

“Affected” can mean:

  • Having higher rates of the condition, or
  • Having worse outcomes as a result of the condition, such as higher rates of medical complications, disability, or death.

A healthcare disparity refers to differences at the service level, such as access to healthcare coverage and medical treatment, as well as the quality of those services.

What health and healthcare disparities exist in HIV?

Prominent health disparities exist among:

  • African Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Transgender people
  • People from low-income backgrounds

HIV+ individuals from these groups experience the following health and healthcare disparities:

  • Higher rates of HIV infection. For example, African Americans comprise 12% of the U.S. population, yet 41% of the HIV+ population. Latinos comprise 16% of the U.S. population, yet 21% of the HIV+ population.
  • Delayed HIV diagnosis
  • Less access to medical treatment for HIV
  • Lower quality healthcare
  • Lower likelihood of being prescribed HIV medication
  • Higher rates of death and disability
  • Worse cognitive or neurological outcomes

Why is this important?

By nature, health and healthcare disparities reflect injustices in our society, and those injustices can and should be remedied. As wage gaps widen and our population becomes increasingly diverse, these inequities will affect even more citizens.

From a social justice perspective, we must right these wrongs and protect the most vulnerable. From a health and economic perspective, the cost of not doing so is too great—if injustice is not ended, we all pay the price.

What do we need to do?

HIV has long been shrouded in stigma and HIV+ individuals often face discrimination. Therefore, we need to continue to:

  • Make efforts to de-stigmatize HIV and its treatment
  • Examine the complex relationship between these inequities and social, economic, environmental, cultural, and structural factors
  • Protect those at greater risk of contracting HIV
  • Identify and remove barriers to quality healthcare for those who become HIV+

We have a long way to go to eliminate these inequities in HIV, but we are making progress in reducing them.

Find out more about key initiatives such as the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy (NHAS) and CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning project (ECHPP).

Act Against AIDS is a CDC-sponsored website that lists different programs you can get involved in to help in the fight against AIDS.

To find out what APA is doing about HIV, visit the Office on AIDS webpage.

Humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity” – Bill Gates

 

Biographies:

Alyssa Arentoft, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University, Northridge. Her research explores brain-behavior relationships in disease states using a biopsychosociocultural framework. She is particularly interested in health disparities and health-related outcomes among underrepresented and disenfranchised populations. Her current work is focused on individuals with HIV/AIDS. Ongoing projects in this area include an NIMH-funded study examining longitudinal changes in the brain among HIV+ individuals as a function of HIV antiretroviral medication. Differences in healthcare quality between non-Hispanic white and African American participants, as well as factors associated with these differences, are also being examined.

Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD, is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Fordham University. She also serves as Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist. Her interests are in a variety of neurological disorders, particularly neurodegenerative disorders such as HIV/AIDS. Over the past few years, she has conducted numerous neuropsychological evaluations within her private practice with a variety of populations, including traumatic brain injury, dementia, Spanish-speakers, and others. Her primary projects at this time include a study of the neurocognitive and sociocultural aspects of antiretroviral adherence among HIV+ Latino/a adults, as well as a study examining the neurocognitive effects of opiate replacement therapies among HIV+ and HIV- opiate users. Dr. Rivera Mindt also serves as a co-investigator on a multi-site study of the CNS effects of HIV in the era of combined antiretroviral therapy. She is also investigating the sociocultural aspects of neurocognitive test performance.


Filed under: AIDS, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: aids, health care, health disparities, health equity, HIV, poverty, public policy, social justice

Health and Healthcare Injustice: Why We Really Should Care About HIV Disparities

red aids ribbon in hand.

By Alyssa Arentoft, PhD (California State University, Northridge) & Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD (Fordham University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps nowhere are health and healthcare inequities so glaring as in HIV.

In the early years of the HIV epidemic, when we knew little about the virus and no viable treatment existed, HIV was viewed as a death sentence. During the 1990s and early 2000s, advances in medical and pharmacological treatment transformed HIV into a chronic, long-term condition. Concerns have now shifted from simply surviving HIV to living and hopefully thriving with the virus.

Much has changed since HIV first gripped the nation. Sadly, one thing remains constant—HIV continues to take its largest toll on our society’s most vulnerable, resulting in pervasive health and healthcare disparities.

So, what are health and healthcare disparities?

A health disparity exists when a particular group of people is more significantly affected by a condition than the general public.

“Affected” can mean:

  • Having higher rates of the condition, or
  • Having worse outcomes as a result of the condition, such as higher rates of medical complications, disability, or death.

A healthcare disparity refers to differences at the service level, such as access to healthcare coverage and medical treatment, as well as the quality of those services.

What health and healthcare disparities exist in HIV?

Prominent health disparities exist among:

  • African Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Transgender people
  • People from low-income backgrounds

HIV+ individuals from these groups experience the following health and healthcare disparities:

  • Higher rates of HIV infection. For example, African Americans comprise 12% of the U.S. population, yet 41% of the HIV+ population. Latinos comprise 16% of the U.S. population, yet 21% of the HIV+ population.
  • Delayed HIV diagnosis
  • Less access to medical treatment for HIV
  • Lower quality healthcare
  • Lower likelihood of being prescribed HIV medication
  • Higher rates of death and disability
  • Worse cognitive or neurological outcomes

Why is this important?

By nature, health and healthcare disparities reflect injustices in our society, and those injustices can and should be remedied. As wage gaps widen and our population becomes increasingly diverse, these inequities will affect even more citizens.

From a social justice perspective, we must right these wrongs and protect the most vulnerable. From a health and economic perspective, the cost of not doing so is too great—if injustice is not ended, we all pay the price.

What do we need to do?

HIV has long been shrouded in stigma and HIV+ individuals often face discrimination. Therefore, we need to continue to:

  • Make efforts to de-stigmatize HIV and its treatment
  • Examine the complex relationship between these inequities and social, economic, environmental, cultural, and structural factors
  • Protect those at greater risk of contracting HIV
  • Identify and remove barriers to quality healthcare for those who become HIV+

We have a long way to go to eliminate these inequities in HIV, but we are making progress in reducing them.

Find out more about key initiatives such as the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy (NHAS) and CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning project (ECHPP).

Act Against AIDS is a CDC-sponsored website that lists different programs you can get involved in to help in the fight against AIDS.

To find out what APA is doing about HIV, visit the Office on AIDS webpage.

Humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity” – Bill Gates

 

Biographies:

Alyssa Arentoft, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University, Northridge. Her research explores brain-behavior relationships in disease states using a biopsychosociocultural framework. She is particularly interested in health disparities and health-related outcomes among underrepresented and disenfranchised populations. Her current work is focused on individuals with HIV/AIDS. Ongoing projects in this area include an NIMH-funded study examining longitudinal changes in the brain among HIV+ individuals as a function of HIV antiretroviral medication. Differences in healthcare quality between non-Hispanic white and African American participants, as well as factors associated with these differences, are also being examined.

Monica Rivera Mindt, PhD, is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Fordham University. She also serves as Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist. Her interests are in a variety of neurological disorders, particularly neurodegenerative disorders such as HIV/AIDS. Over the past few years, she has conducted numerous neuropsychological evaluations within her private practice with a variety of populations, including traumatic brain injury, dementia, Spanish-speakers, and others. Her primary projects at this time include a study of the neurocognitive and sociocultural aspects of antiretroviral adherence among HIV+ Latino/a adults, as well as a study examining the neurocognitive effects of opiate replacement therapies among HIV+ and HIV- opiate users. Dr. Rivera Mindt also serves as a co-investigator on a multi-site study of the CNS effects of HIV in the era of combined antiretroviral therapy. She is also investigating the sociocultural aspects of neurocognitive test performance.


Filed under: AIDS, Health Disparities, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: aids, health care, health disparities, health equity, HIV, poverty, public policy, social justice

Penalizing the Poor and Homeless: Psychology’s Contribution

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Image source: Flickr user ccozzaglia [Astrid Idlewild] on Flickr, under Creative Commons

By Maha Khalid (Program Coordinator, Office on Socioeconomic Status)

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” – Nelson Mandela

Communities across the country respond to poverty and homelessness with a variety of programs: food banks, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing. However, despite these programs, there has been an emergence of class-based stigma, stereotyping, and discrimination, which has led to policies that penalize unavoidable aspects of poverty.

Historically marginalized and disenfranchised populations have been disproportionately affected by the lack of affordable, accessible, safe, and stable housing. Such oppressed groups include racial and ethnic minorities, refugees and immigrants, older adults, veterans, persons with disabilities (including mental illness), female-headed households with children, and unaccompanied youth — many of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and/or aging out of foster care systems (Cochran, Stewart, Ginzler, & Cauce, 2002; Lehman & Cordray, 1993; Shinn, 2007; Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007; U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008; U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2009; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2009).

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has noted nationwide trends among states and cities that target the poor. For instance:

  • Individuals living in poverty who may have only committed a minor crime may be unable to keep up with the financial penalties, which can result in violating probation. Ultimately, these unaffordable fees can result in a vicious cycle of poverty and incarceration.
  • Children involved in the welfare system are disproportionately detained in the juvenile justice system, which is psychologically distressing and places youth at increased risk of subsequent delinquent activity.
  • Recent food sharing bans in cities across the United States have imposed fines and even jail time for the crime of disbursing of food to hungry and homeless individuals.

As such, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in 2015 (November 14-22) focused on the decriminalization of homeless individuals. Psychological research and practice contains significant contributions to understanding the correlates and consequences of homelessness. Watch Susana A. Lopez, PhD, of the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, provide an overview of the current research on “Criminalizing Housing Status: Focus on Homeless Youth.” The presentation is available here.

Additionally, the APA Presidential Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness was tasked with identifying and addressing the psychosocial factors and conditions associated with homelessness, and defining the role of psychologists in decriminalizing and ending homelessness. The report and its recommendations are available at http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/end-homelessness.aspx.

What do you think?  What do we need to do to better address the needs of homeless individuals in our communities?  Add your thoughts in the comment section.

Biography:

Maha Khalid is the Program Coordinator of the Office on Socioeconomic Status and the Editor of the SES Indicator. She works to facilitate and promote psychology’s contribution to the understanding of SES and the lives and well-being of the poor. She received her bachelors in Psychology from the George Washington University.

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association

Image source: Flickr user ccozzaglia [Astrid Idlewild] on Flickr, under Creative Commons


Filed under: Human Rights and Social Justice, Poverty and Socioeconomic Status, Public Policy Tagged: discrimination, homeless, homelessness, poverty, public policy