There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

and their personal networks.

In response to prevailing economic, social, and political conditions, doubled-up homeless families were forced to develop alternative domestic structures and modes of functioning that they could not sustain permanently. Furthermore, doubled-up families were unable to maintain the other stable groupings and relationships required to ensure their continued participation in mainstream American life. Also because of the city's faulty administration of social services and the emergency shelter system, families who request emergency shelter are not placed in their former communities where they could maintain their previous ties as required by law. As a result, families who lack stable housing of their own are unable to sustain the social relationships and groupings on which their participation in mainstream American life would have to be based.

The recommendations that flow from this study are based in part on the social theory of vertical linkages in complex societies between forces operating both in the larger society and in local events. For example, federal policy and actions, or non-actions, related to the minimum wage and to public assistance and subsidized housing programs influence the behavior of homeless and doubled-up families in New York City. The absence of federal support for low-income housing and inadequate federal oversight of the administration of social programs can strongly affect the conduct of those programs and the personal decisions of impoverished families at state and city levels.


NOTES
1.
The Action Research Project on Hunger, Homelessness, and Family Health is supported by the Foundation for Child Development, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, J.P. Morgan & Co., Incorporated, the New York Community Trust, the Olive Bridge Fund, and the 1990 Josephine Shaw Lowell Award of the Community Service Society.
2.
The cultural materialist approach distinguishes between mental and behavioral events and usually involves two kinds of methods: one capturing the perspective of the informant, the other that of the observer. In the first, or "emic," approach, the observer uses logical concepts and distinctions that are meaningful and appropriate to the informants; in the second, "etic," approach, the observer uses concepts and distinctions suited to the community of scientific observers ( Dehavenon 1995; Harris 1983; Lett 1990).
3.
The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan are the boroughs of New York City with the highest rates of unemployment, poverty, and family homelessness.
4.
In 1991 I testified as expert witness in two cases brought on behalf of homeless families by the Legal Aid Society in the Supreme Court of New York State. First, in Jiggetts v. Perales, findings from my research were introduced in support of an increase in the public assistance shelter allowance. As of March 1996, the court's subsequent favorable ruling had enabled 30,000 families to remain in apartments from which they would have otherwise been evicted for nonpayment of rents above the allowance. In the second case, McCain v. Koch, other findings from the study were credited with having contributed substantially to the same court's ruling New York City in contempt of court in 1992 and 1996--when the

-65-

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There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contemporary Urban Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Prologue: Azdak Lives xi
  • Notes xiv
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Conclusion xx
  • 1: Poverty and Homelessness in Rural Upstate New York 1
  • Introduction 1
  • Summary and Recommendations 13
  • Conclusion 16
  • Notes 16
  • 2: The 1990 Decennial Census and Patterns of Homelessness in a Small New England City 19
  • Introduction 19
  • Summary and Recommendations 30
  • Conclusion 33
  • Note 33
  • 3: Doubling-Up: A Strategy of Urban Reciprocity to Avoid Homelessness in Detroit 35
  • Introduction 35
  • Summury and Recommendations 46
  • Conclusion 48
  • Notes 48
  • 4: Doubling-Up and New York City's Policies for Sheltering Homeless Families 51
  • Introduction 51
  • Summary and Recomendations 63
  • Conclusion 64
  • Conclusion 65
  • 5: A Home by Any Means Necessary: Government Policy on Squatting in the Public Housing of a Large Mid-Atlantic City 67
  • Introduction 67
  • Summary and Recommendations 76
  • Conclusion 78
  • Notes 78
  • 6: Huts for the Homeless: A Low- Technology Approach for Squatters in Atlanta, Georgia 81
  • Introduction 81
  • Summary and Recommendations 100
  • Conclusion 102
  • 7: Piety and Poverty: The Religious Response to the Homeless in Albuquerque, New Mexico 105
  • Introduction 105
  • Summary and Recommendations 114
  • Conclusion 116
  • Conclusion 117
  • 8: Suburban Homelessness and Social Space: Strategies of Authority and Local Resistance in Orange County, California 121
  • Introduction 121
  • Summary and Recommendations 140
  • Conclusion 141
  • Conclusion 142
  • 9: "There Goes the Neighborhood": Gentrification, Displacement, and Homelessness in Washington, D.C. 145
  • Introdution 145
  • Summary and Recommendations 160
  • Conclusions 162
  • Conclusions 163
  • Conclusion 165
  • Epilogue: A Perilous Bridge 175
  • References 177
  • Index 193
  • Contributors 203
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