Homeless in America

Homeless in America

Homeless in America

Homeless in America

Synopsis

The 1980s have witnessed a dramatic increase in homelessness among impoverished and dependent persons, particularly in major metropolitan areas. In this in-depth study, Carol, L.M. Caton and her colleagues synthesize the available information on this alarming trend, providing a comprehensive discussion of the causes and historical antecedents of homelessness and answering such questions as: Who are the homeless and what are their day-to-day lives like? What can be done to help the homeless and ensure that society meets its responsibility to them? How many homeless are there and why are their numbers increasing? In addressing these questions Homeless in America describes various public and private shelter programs and, utilizing a unique scientific approach, discusses social and economic policy innovations aimed at independent living. The result is an invaluable resource for students in the social sciences, medicine, law, public policy, and social work, as well as for mental health professionals.

Excerpt

Every spring, beginning on Mother's Day, my guild, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), holds its annual scientific meeting. This year ten thousand of us left our comfortable hotels to convene at the San Francisco Convention Center. To get there most of us hurried past small groups of ragged people holding posters and passing out blurred leaflets with various slogans: Psychiatry Uses Drugs That Kill, ECT Destroys the Brain, Save Your Pet from Animal Researchers!

Inside the Convention Center, we entered halls filled with television monitors and well-dressed colleagues discussing the day's activities. We grabbed free pens from pharmaceutical companies promoting their newer and better medications while trying to keep their older ones alive. Private psychiatric hospitals told us why we should send them patients who need their special care. Rooms were packed with attentive members and guests learning from each other about the cocaine epidemic, AIDS, and a plethora of facts and theories, which could not be digested in a lifetime, much less four days. By tradition the president of the APA picks his own theme for the meeting, and in 1989 it was "overcoming stigma."

On leaving the Convention Center in the early evening, we saw that the protesters, who had energetically called attention to their concerns that morning, were gone. Only their leaflets remained, strewn over the pavement. The streets had been abandoned to others who were protesting not with signs held high but rather with outstretched hands. We stepped around them without acknowledging their existence. We were afraid, em-

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