Deinstitutionalization to Economics
Deinstitutionalization started in the 1960s when mental healthcare systems came under fire for mistreatment of patients and as new psychotropic drugs were made available that could reduce the more blatant psychiatric features of the mentally ill (Stroman 32–34). What seemed a miracle for many mentally ill and disabled Americans would quickly become a far worse scenario as these individuals were often released with little support from communities. Mental healthcare was not designed at the onset of deinstitutionalization to cope with housing the mentally ill or to provide aftercare. As a result, many of these patients would find themselves homeless not being able to regulate their medications and find appropriate care. In semi-rural areas such as Augusta, lack of funding would create situations where aftercare and proper treatment of the mentally ill and disabled would be almost impossible and many people would find themselves re-institutionalized or warehoused in jails. This problem would be exasperated by public indifference.
Today, homelessness has been altered by the influx of new demographics. Currently, families and single parents with children comprise a large percentage of the homeless population. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness (2011), families comprise 34% of the homeless population in the United States. There are also a large number of homeless children and single parents living on the streets. This change in demographic has many implications but I believe the rise in homelessness can be explained mainly by the impact economic crash. Many people may have just been hanging on economically before the crash and when it hit this was enough to make them homeless.
National Center on Family Homelessness. (2011).Strengthening at risk and homeless young mothers and children. Retrieved from http://www.familyhomelessness.org/
Stroman, Duane. The Disability Rights Movement: From Deinstitutionalization to Self- determination. . Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003. 32–34. Print.