Homelessness is a problem everywhere around the world, though not at the same rates.
What’s even more surprising than the discrepancy in homeless populations between the two cities is the fact that Tokyo, at 13.4 million people, is larger than New York City (8.4 million people) and Los Angeles (3.9 million people) combined. While the rate of homelessness in New York is currently 67 for every 10,000 people, in Tokyo there is just one homeless individual for every 10,000 city residents.
Why the massive discrepancy in rates of homelessness between two of the most populous cities in the world?
As with most socioeconomic phenomena, there are a number of contributing factors. First and foremost, income inequality is a massive and growing problem in the United States, while Japan has historically had one of the lowest rates of inequality among developed countries. One principal measure of income inequality is the GINI coefficient, a measure from 0.0 (perfect equality) to 1.0 (perfect inequality). Recent surveys in the two countries found a GINI coefficient in Japan of 0.32, while in the US that rate was 0.41. However, income inequality can’t be the only explanation for Japan’s success combatting homelessness, especially considering that the country’s inequality index has actually worsened over the past few decades.
Where Japan is really surpassing the United States, instead, is in the social safety net it offers its citizens. (Think Progress)
Our safety net is full of holes, allowing far too many people to become homeless.
Richard Gere recently portrayed a homeless man.
Two hours of trying to find a place to sleep, trying to get identification to receive benefits.
Here are the results from the recent Sunday Poll:
Q: Agree or disagree? St. Louis should require those giving food to the homeless to have a license?
- Strongly agree 8 [18.18%]
- Agree 4 [9.09%]
- Somewhat agree 1 [2.27%]
- Neither agree or disagreei 2 [4.55%]
- Somewhat disagree 3 [6.82%]
- Disagree 8 [18.18%]
- Strongly disagree 15 [34.09%]
- Unsure/No Answer 3 [6.82%]
Nearly 60% disagree with requiring a license, I’m in the middle. Every day I pass the homeless and the criminals that prey on them, I often see a new person with a suitcase. A church group unloading baloney sandwiches from a trunk isn’t helpful as a warm meal indoors. Those doing so think it’ll help them after they’ve died, but I’d rather offer real help in the present.
I’ve helped two people who were homeless in downtown St. Louis. The first lived in a property I owned for over a year as he got a job and rebuilt his life. He’s remarried and they recently bought a home together. The more recent person is still struggling, but he was able to leave St. Louis a few years ago. I brought both food — fresh fruit. They’ve both been in our loft, guests for a home-cooked meal. It’s rare that I meet anyone on the street that I feel comfortable with inviting into our home.
The sight of crowds of homeless, and those who prey on them, crowding around a car/van must further lower the spirits of those in that situation. Of course, we don’t want anyone dropping dead due to starvation, but all of society would be better off if we improved our safety net and then improved our ability to get people off the street and into housing. It’s also cheaper.
But this is St. Louis, we don’t do what’s best. In June police drove into the park between Soldiers Memorial and the library to run off the homeless.
Like most parks downtown, this one no longer has any benches. No reason for anyone to be there.
Those newly on the street need to be housed quickly before they become accustomed to life on the streets. An overnight cot isn’t the same thing. This requires social workers. The license bill shouldn’t become law, but it would be nice if those who want to help took action to actually help. Volunteer at places that feed the homeless warm meals indoors, provide stable housing, etc.
— Steve Patterson