The Culture of the Homeless Population Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1836 Words
Date:  2022-05-26

Lack of a place of residence is a deviance that society regards to be normal. This situation makes the culture of this group of people become their brand and develops in a way that suits the needs of those who live in such settings. The article discusses the culture of the homeless population in the United States of America.

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Studies reveal important aspects of the culture and these include language, religion, and hierarchy among the homeless in the United States of America. Homeless population does not have a specific language to communicate because they are originating from multiple subcultures and each of whom speaks their own language of origin (Brubaker et al., 2013). Other factors that influence how homeless people communicate include educational background, past history and the individual's status levels (Brubaker et al., 2013). Moreover, not all of these people use broken grammar in communication as it is the notion in the society. However, there are some terminologies that are used as a common language among the homeless population irrespective of their origin. Most terminologies are slangs such as bag lady, waif, tramp, and hobo. Thus, the homeless people speak different languages depending on their ethnicities but there are several slangs that are common among them.

Religion is also another aspect of the culture of homeless people. Research done reveals that homeless people still follow their religious and this underlies the importance of religion in their culture. Religion has enabled a number of these people to survive dislocation and trauma that accompanies state homelessness. Some homeless people have managed to acquire and maintain a modicum of faith, humor, and dignity through their different religions even though undignified scenarios surround their daily. The two major religions among the homeless people which are Protestantism and Catholicism. However, other religions exist which include Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism among many others.

The homeless group just like other human cultures has different forms of hierarchy among themselves. Guiding principles that describe a leader among the homeless people are different from what usually establishes power in a mainstream culture. It means that the state creates an inverted form of hierarchy. Commoners with high trauma experience and have spent a lot of time on the streets are found to receive the highest form of respect (Jackson & Shannon, 2014). Further, the street inhabitants who have survived alcohol and drugs are most admired among the homeless (Jackson & Shannon, 2014). The ability of an individual to survive street life for a long time is seen as one of the highly admired qualities. Moreover, pain and trauma are considered to be badges of honor among these people as there are instances where the homeless brag about their rape records and other touting criminal records (Mackelprang, Graves, & Rivara, 2014). Thus, members with the longest survivor of street life and with the highest drug use or rape record are given chance to lead others.

Key Things about the Culture from Internet

The culture of the homeless people can be deduced from various internet and media sources available. Some aspects of culture that can be deduced from media resources include violence, ethics, and appearance. Generally, the homeless feel like they are resented by the greater society and this gives them some form of anger. People with this attitude are unable to adequately deal with some of the days to day frustrations (Clark, 2018). As a result, they portray a misappropriation of aggressive action to many things in their lives in which they feel like they need to have more control over. Violence is considered as an acceptable way that can be used in solving disputes between people within the culture of the homeless. However, the response of the homeless people to violence is different and is usually depended on their background (Clark, 2018). When faced with violence, the people might decide to engage themselves, attempt to escape or find protection from other stronger individuals within the groups. Thus, violence is part of the culture of homeless people.

Ethics is also part of the culture among homeless people. The dominant principles among this group of people include self-survival, friendship, acknowledgment, and hope among many others (Lopez, 2015). Self-survival comes from the high dependency of the population to survive (Affeld, 2017). Most of them are jobless and do not have any alternative sources of money to purchase food and other basic necessities. They appreciate making friendships and other forms of social interaction with people whom they consider to be privileged because this makes them feel more accepted by the society. Most of them always tend to acknowledge a kind word from other people because it usually makes them smile and appreciate the fact that their presence is recognized (Affeld, 2017).

Many of the homeless people dress in a normal clothing and it may be difficult to differentiate them in the society. They usually make the best out of the little they own (Clark, 2018). However, the clothes that these people wear may not be comfortable on their bodies since most of the clothes are not in the best condition making them feel isolated.

Core Functions Assessment

Information on the culture of the homeless people is important during the process of assessment. The process of assessment will require one to identify the causes of homelessness, major illnesses, stereotypes, and necessary interventions that should be taken. The causes of homelessness among these people include job loss, runaway teens, abusive relationships, drug addiction and mental illnesses (Howard, 2013). Schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive are some of the challenges facing homeless people. Others include HIV/AIDs, hepatitis B & C, hypertension, diabetes, liver disease, asthma, substance abuse, and tuberculosis among many others. Understanding their culture will enable an individual to deduce the link between major illnesses that face this population and their daily life activities. Most homeless people live in outdoor conditions, which are prone to cold-related diseases such as asthma. Drug addiction problems experienced result from their attempt at being the most experienced on the streets so as to gain respect (Howard, 2013). The assessment should also put into consideration the stereotypes that these people are subjected to on a daily basis.

Treatment Planning

Determination of treatment plans that will help to alleviate the problems faced by the population will depend on their culture. One of the main things that culture helps to deduce is the reasons for poor health management (Wright, 2017). Other reasons include lack of knowledge regarding the basic practices of health, hygiene, infections and substance abuse. Insufficient knowledge makes these people engage in unsafe practices that predispose them to poor health. Poor hygiene is also regarded as part of the people's lifestyle since they cannot afford enough money that will enable them to observe a balanced diet on a daily basis. Frequent infections are associated with their living environment where hygiene standards are not very conducive as most of them sleep in cold places (Wright, 2017). Chronic use of alcohol and other drugs lowers their body immunity and predisposes them to diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The formulated treatment plan should take into account their culture as well as their nature of failing to keep appointments with the physicians (Wright, 2017). The main goals of the treatment plan should be to identify measures that will help reduce their frequent infections and to ensure appropriate medication is given in order to achieve a high level of compliance.


Counseling is essential for the homeless population and the type of counseling should coincide with their lifestyle. Society dictates that those who have stayed on the streets for longer periods should get highest ranks in terms of hierarchy as they will demand respect from newbies. On the other hand, the homeless population has been identified as being violent hence the counselor should be careful in the process of sharing information with them to ensure that they are not provoked into being violent (Ravenhill, 2016). During the counseling procedure, the aspects that ought to be considered include drug use, health behavior, and their mental health.

The homeless people should be encouraged about their feelings of hopelessness and the sense of self-worth to ensure that there is a reduced possibility of these individuals committing suicide. They should be provided with informative documents that are easy to read to assist in enlightening them on the best places to obtain food, shelter, and clothing. These documents could also shed light on the practices that will enable them to return to their homes safe. Finally, they should be taught of the health risks that accompany substance abuse, and the measures of preventing sexually transmitted diseases. The counselor should also plan for follow up sessions that will involve the movement from place to place to talk to an individuals who had been counseled since their culture reveals that they rarely observe appointments.

Current Surprises

The current surprise that I am finding out about the group of homeless people is that some of them have attained high levels of education yet they have ended up being homeless because of different reasons. For a long time, many think these people are homeless because they lack education which could enable them to be successful in the society. Apart from this, the homeless sometimes consider trauma and rape as positive things. This is because people who have endured many of the traumatic experiences are more respected by the homeless community as they command a higher level of respect.

Impact on my Expectations

Searching both the internet and literature has impacted my expectations as I plan my immersion activities with the homeless people. One of the things that I have learned is that some people usually take pride in criminal and violent activities. Learning this fact will enable me to be careful when dealing with them and to ensure that I keep myself safe at all times. Also, I have learned is that the homeless community rarely follows their appointment schedules and this will need a sacrifice to follow up on them. I will need to be aggressive on a personal basis to visit them in their common hangout places and the places they live to give them the necessary counseling. Finally, I have learned that these people usually value attention as it makes them feel they have not been forgotten by the greater section of the society. I will try to greet them always with a smile and say a few words to make them feel appreciated.


Affeld, M. (2017, June 19). Hungry And Homeless In America. Retrieved from

Brubaker, M. D., Amatea, E. A., TorresRivera, E., Miller, M. D., & Nabors, L. (2013). Barriers and supports to substance abuse service use among homeless adults. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 34(2), 81-98.

Clark, C. E. (2018, February 27). Who Are the Homeless People of America? Retrieved May 31, 2018, from, E. (2013). Homeless: poverty and place in urban America. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Jackson, A., & Shannon, L. (2014). Examining social support in a rural homeless population. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 29(1), 48.

Lopez, G. (2015, January 15). 11 myths about homelessness in America. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from h...

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