Homelessness in the United States: State Surveys

Homelessness in the United States: State Surveys

Homelessness in the United States: State Surveys

Homelessness in the United States: State Surveys

Synopsis

"Chapters in this work describe and analyze homelessness in 15 states, from all geographic regions of the US. The diversity of survey locations reveals a variety of forces contributing to homelessness. There are frequent efforts to situate the problem within the sociopolitical context of the 1980s. An occasional chapter contains rich theoretical commentary. . . . the scope of the findings is compelling and the contradiction of stereotypes is effective." Choice "This volume reads and holds together well even though each of the 14 chapters was written by a different individual or group, covers a diffrent section of the country, uses different types of data sources and analytical methods, and evidences differing perspectives. An excellent foreword and introduction (Bruce Wiegand, Howard M. Bahr) put everything in context . . ." Library Journal

Excerpt

As Americans were rediscovering the homeless in the early years of this decade, there emerged a set of popular myths, which were accepted on face value. For example, at that time it was believed that the size of the homeless population was between 2 and 3 million. It was also widely held that women and children made up a growing portion of the population, and that the loss of factory jobs and the premature release of mental patients into communities were the most important explanations for the apparently sudden outbreak of the problem.

In contrast to these myths, another set of beliefs also arose and gained popular support. Drawing upon assumptions of personal responsibility and moral righteousness, these beliefs recalled earlier stereotypes of the " skid-row bum." The claim here was that today's homeless are nothing more than the latest manifestation of the age-old problem of broken men, alcoholism, and failed dreams. An even earlier conception--the myth of the hobo or carefree vagabond--appears to be inconsequential to present-day debates over the causes and cures of homelessness. Thus, for the past seven or eight years, we have witnessed an ideological contest with conflicting stereotypes--the myth of the "new homeless" versus the myth of the "skid-row bum"--at its base. And as the contest to determine which of the myths will provide the blueprint for domestic national policy as it relates to the homeless continues, I am troubled by the inflated language and unsubstantiated claims on both sides.

The success of Jamshid Momeni's volume is that it is one of the first attempts to deflate the hyperbole that has come to be associated with homelessness. The material he has selected for this book does not favor one ideological position or another, but instead calls upon established social science methods to strip away . . .

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