This semester I researched poverty and homelessness in the United States of America’s history, specifically where the stigma around poverty and homelessness may have originated. I also explored possible effective solutions. For my Omeka Project I focused on the opinion of the public on poverty contemporary to Jane Addams, her creation of Hull house, and on aid the Works Progress Administration provided to those unemployed during the Great Depression. This naturally led to questions of: is the stigma still around today, how people are combating the stigma today, and how are cities and countries working to end poverty and homelessness within their borders?
The sources of information I utilized were varied and included historical documents, scholarly research papers, and publicly available videos. In one source a Helsinki, Finland study on the long-term life of homeless people was conducted by a group that checking in with participants a decade after they used a shelter where they were doing their study. This type of long-term study has not been done before as homeless people move from place to place, die, or find permanent housing. Additionally, I found that Jane Addams had written and given speeches tying crime to moral deficiency and implying those who needed social reform were morally deficient. Other reading revealed the Works Progress Administration was ended during World War II because of the societal stigma around poverty. I found a project in Finland called the Y-Foundation which gives homes to homeless people which may be model for possible solutions in the United States of America. Further toward possible American solutions the Salvation Army in La Crosse, Wisconsin is working to reduce the stigma around poverty and homelessness. Lastly, I found a Youtube channel called Invisible People that tells the story of the homeless people the founder meets. The lingering question I have as a result of my research is: what is the best way to inform the public and legislatures that more solutions to poverty and homelessness need implemented, including possibly theY-Foundation model?