Homeless, Homelessness, Poverty, Racism, Community, Grand Rapids, Local Organization, Misconceptions, Stereotypes, Demographics


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Welfare


Rosalynn Bliss


This paper provides tangible explanations and evidence as to the severity of poverty and homelessness. It utilizes national and local research, interviews with local organizations and programs, and personal experience doing outreach. Homelessness is a complex social issue stemming from how society was built and how it is regulated, which systemically outcasts those who are facing adversity. Many people are unaware of the realities of poverty and homelessness, especially with the power given to stereotypes and preconceived notions. These misconceptions need to be broken and there must be a more unified approach developed in order to overcome them, which involves effort from everyone. These efforts can directly help those in need while raising awareness about the true complexities of housing instability and homelessness. Poverty and homelessness effect people on an individual level and as a collective community, which makes it more compelling to solve. Organizations and programs that combat these issues consider homelessness to be solvable, but there needs to be more coordination among services and full support from the community to intentionally end it. In order to provide a holistic understanding of poverty and homelessness, this paper is divided into sections, focusing respectively on the history of the issue in the United States, statistics, leading causes, threatened demographics, the cycle of poverty, misconceptions, personal narratives from those who have experienced homelessness, programs and solutions offered by local Grand Rapids organizations, and valuable courses of action community members can take to help.