Poverty has existed for as long as people have had a concept of wealth and homeless people have existed for as long as people have had a concept of home. The stigma around poverty and homelessness developed later.
Jane Addams founded Hull House in 1889, now known as the Jane Addams Hull-house Museum, as a social settlement. A social settlement transplants wealthier, college educated people into neighborhoods inhabited by immigrants and other impoverished people. Social settlements function similar to a community center or a YMCA. Jane Addams was also part of a Citizen's Anti-Crime Committee.
Jane Addams wrote the above document in 1909, connecting social reform or assisting those in need with moral instruction or religion. Essentially, she stated that those who need social reform may also need to be reformed morally. This early suggestion of moral reform tied to social reform reflects a budding stigma toward those in need. However, Hull house was a secular institution.
The above document was written by Jane Addams in 1910, stating that religious leaders have failed the young population of Chicago, Illinois because young adults in the area had been arrested frequently. Jane Addams linked crime with moral deficiency. Crime is associated with poverty, but it is essential to note that crime, or moral deficiency, does not cause poverty.
Since Jane Addams founded Hull House in 1889, there have been attempts by the United States of America's government to assist those who live in poverty. One of the most famous government programs to assist the poor was the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of his New Deal efforts to end the Great Depression.
The WPA began in 1935 and ended in 1943. The graph above shows an upward trend in measures of economic health, during the first few years the WPA existed. However, even the WPA was not strong enough to hold back the effects of the Great Depression for long. The WPA did help the economy begin to recover until the production and jobs created by World War II could help the economy recover completely.
Disbanding the WPA during World War II, when it was still assisting the impoverished and unemployed, indicates there was still stigma against those in the condition of poverty.
This stigma can still be seen today when cities, towns, and businesses, take measures to prevent the homeless from spending the night on benches in parks or covered stoops outside of businesses.
However, there are people all over the world working to end poverty, homelessness, and the stigma around them.
The video above was created by the Y-Foundation, a company started in Finland to end homelessness in Finland. Warning: the video is in Finnish but there are English subtitles throughout.
The La Crosse, Wisconsin Salvation Army is working to reduce the stigma around poverty and homelessness. The students of the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse are assisted by the Salvation Army when they cannot make rent or do not have money for food. The Salvation Army's assistance led the students to write a newspaper article about the Salvations Army's assistance to the students and fight to end the stigma around poverty and homelessness in the school's newspaper.
A combination of all of these methods may eventually be enough to end poverty and homelessness. However, more people and more countries need to get behind these organizations and methods in order for them to be successful.