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Date Submitted: 05/30/2013 02:46 PM

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Reeta Zamro

Mrs. Samuels

English 12

April 26, 2013


“Look at that guy - he's crazy. He looks dangerous.’' This is how Eric McCormack, an actor in New York described the daily reaction and perception people have of homeless, mentally ill people. Homelessness among people with mental illnesses is considered among the most intractable of social issues. There is now a huge epidemic of homeless people who either have some signs of a mental illness or are severely diagnosed with a mental illness. Shelters must be established for the mentally ill in order to eventually help them become independent in society.

So aren’t there better ways to handle severe mental illness rather than keeping the majority on the street where eventually they also end up behind bars? I believe there is. And the answer is more shelters designed just for the mentally ill. No, I’m not suggesting we round up people with a mental illness and put them somewhere but I am suggesting that we need safe spaces for people to go who need full-time support. Not every homeless person is equipped to live on the streets – particularly not ones that need treatment. And once a person has stabilized in a facility they can then be moved to places that still offer support but also independence.

Before you reach into your pocketbook and complain about the amount of money needed to be spent consider this- Florida and a variety of other locations have declared that in the next 10 years there will be another ten additional prisons built because of the increasing amount of inmates. Instead of building ten more prisons why don’t we spend that money building shelters to house and prevent the majority of future inmates that would be considered mentally ill. Research suggests that helping mentally ill homeless people find permanent housing also helps society by lowering costs in the long run. A 2006 study by the Denver Housing First Collaborative discovered that the public cost of...