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Homelessness is a highly complex social problem with various underlying social and economic factors like poverty, mental health problems, unemployment, domestic violence, eviction, addictions, lack of affordable housing and family or community breakdown, among others (Kendall, 2020). These factors contribute to the type, frequency and duration of homelessness. To be fully homeless, Mago et al. (2018) claim that one lives without shelter, but most people experience partial homelessness, including sub-standard, temporary or uncertain shelter. Homelessness is quite difficult to define, and therefore, governments struggle with this uncertainty when generating and implementing policies that might change or eliminate the problem. In this paper, I interviewed a Caucasian woman who has been homeless for a few months.

The interviewee, whose pseudonym is Emma, is a single mother with three children. After COVID-19 struck, Emma was rendered jobless and paying bills became difficult. Emma used to work three jobs, as a waitress, nanny and at a gas station. When the pandemic struck, she lost her job as a nanny because most people were forced to work from home, and therefore, her employer had no need for her to take care of the children. A few days later, she lost her waitress job since the restaurant could not pay the employees. She used to earn minimum wage in all her jobs and was in constant debt as she strived to make ends meet and pay the bills. She currently works at the gas station but can barely afford rent, medical bills, or food with the wage cut. Emma has two teenage boys and a young daughter to fend for. She was already late on most of her bills. After three months of being unable to pay rent, she was evicted. She sought refuge at her friend’s house, but they started having wrangles, and she decided to leave.

Together with her children, Emma has been in four different houses since then. Emma said that she did not want to go to a shelter because she did not want her children to experience life in a shelter. Emma ran away from her abusive father as a young girl, subsequently living in a shelter before being sent to a foster home. Further, she claims that the shelter traumatized her and introduced her to a life of drugs. She met some people who introduced her to drugs, and she had to battle with addiction for over five years. She is currently sober, but with the mental stress from her situation, she claims to have the desire to do drugs again. She is afraid that her children will undergo the same problems with drugs and addiction. Currently, Emma and her children live in a car. They are quite unkempt and struggle to get food. Sometimes, they obtain food from well-wishers, but on most days, they go hungry. The youngest child has developed asthma and is in constant need of medication. With her financial situation, Emma is worried that she might be unable to provide the medical bills for her children since she has no insurance. She is also worried that this circle of poverty and homelessness might be unending for her children and their future generations.

Emma’s scenario is relatable to so many people worldwide. The problem of homelessness has existed for a long time, even before the pandemic, but the rates had been declining. However, research shows that the number of homeless people seems to have skyrocketed after the pandemic due to increased rates of unaffordable housing and unemployment (United Way of the National Capital Area, 2021). Individuals with mental illness, the poor and the minorities are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Lack of stable and reliable social networks can negatively impact individuals at risk of homelessness. Kendall (2020) claims that social networks do not work effectively for homeless and poor individuals. Emma’s poor and homeless status could explain her lack of stable social networks to rely on to provide for her family.

The functionalist theory suggests that social institutions are organized to meet individuals’ basic social needs. Whereas the conflict theorists hold the same view, they do not agree that social institutions work for the common good of every person (Kendall, 2020). Families might be a source of problems and not solutions for some people. For Emma, as a young girl, her family was her source of problems given that her father was abusive, and therefore, dread and anxiety caused her to be homeless for a while. Emma’s children might also lack the stability that comes with a stable family, which is likely to cause major mental, psychological, and physical problems.

Marginalized communities and the poor are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Emma is a Caucasian woman, but given that she identifies as a low-income individual, issues of homelessness are expected. When informal or formal housing supports remain inaccessible, vulnerability to crises that tend to threaten stable housing occurs (Fowler et al., 2019). With the pandemic’s financial crisis and the lack of sufficient housing support, it is unsurprising that so many people are homeless.

Generally, the issue of homelessness is quite complex. The definition, as well as the causes and effects of homelessness, are hard to explain. Mental illness and poverty are considered among the major risk factors for homelessness. Addressing the issue requires complex and multifaceted solutions that involve efforts towards poverty and unemployment eradication as well as more affordable housing and appropriate mental health support, among others. With the rising numbers of vulnerable people during the pandemic, it is important to address the problem and prevent the increasing cases of mental health problems.


Fowler, P. J., Hovmand, P. S., Marcal, K. E., & Das, S. (2019). Solving homelessness from a complex systems perspective: insights for prevention responses. Annual review of public health40, 465-486.

Kendall, D. (2020). Sociology in our times: The essentials. Cengage Learning.

Mago, V. K., Morden, H. K., Fritz, C., Wu, T., Namazi, S., Geranmayeh, P., … & Dabbaghian, V. (2018). Analyzing the impact of social factors on homelessness: a Fuzzy Cognitive Map approach. BMC medical informatics and decision making13(1), 1-19.

United Way of the National Capital Area. (2021). The Impact Of The Covid-19 Pandemic On Homelessness In The United States. Retrieved from



Since Sociology is the study of people, we have direct involvement every day in our communities, schools, family, and neighborhoods. Talking to people is a major part of the sociology field. This paper will allow you to broaden your understanding of a particular sociological concept.

Written Assignment 1 will require you to interview someone in your community that has dealt with any of the social conflicts that we have discussed in the first half of the term.
For example, suicide, bullying, depression, homelessness, discrimination of any kind.
These interviews can be done in person, via computer or other means of communication, but a one-on-one interaction is necessary. As a last resort, if you
cannot find someone to interview, you can also choose a profession that is front and center with current social conflict and discuss your choice in detail to include
sociological perspectives and or other course related material that you see fit. This is an introduction course, so you have some leeway with your direction of your paper, but please make sure you relate it to the material in the first 4 units. (Check chapters 1- 6 in the textbook)



  • Two to three pages in length, excluding the Title and Reference page.
  • APA format, including an in-text citation for referenced works.
  • At least three resources (not including your textbook).

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