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

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Anna Lou Dehavenon

Homelessness in the United States had been increasing for eight years when the idea for this book was suggested in 1988. That increase continues today. The previous chapters have shown how many homeless people are forced to breech the norms of U.S. culture and engage in civil disobedience in order to survive. They also show how public and private social programs fail to prevent poverty and homelessness which are largely the result of important structural changes in the U.S. sociopolitical economy since 1970.

The authors of these chapters do not consider themselves to be public policy experts. However, they agreed to try to frame recommendations on how to prevent homelessness based on the findings from their research. The summary analysis of these recommendations reveals that they fall into four principal categories--(1) temporary shelter, (2) permanent housing, (3) adequate income, and (4) adequate health--thus further substantiating Hopper and Baumohl ( 1994) finding that homelessness is not an isolated phenomenon and the homeless cannot be viewed as "a discrete subclass of the poor."

Presupposing a basic human right to housing ( Paul, Miller, and Paul 1992; Sachar 1994, 1995; Steiner and Alston 1996), this chapter further analyzes these recommendations in terms of the levels of government at which they would be implemented and whether they depend on long or short-term action. It concludes with a discussion of the likelihood of such action being taken in the current political climate which appears to support Draconian cuts in education and human services rather than the investments in the human capital needed for the United States to continue to compete in the global marketplace in an era of "man-made brainpower industries" ( Thurow 1996).

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