Preparing this book was a labor of love, but a long one. Without the encouragement and support of a number of people, beginning with my co-authors, it would not have been completed. I would also like to express my gratitude to Roy A. Rappaport. Under his guidance as president of the American Anthropological Association, Delmos Jones and I first convened the Association's Task Force on Poverty and Homelessness in 1988. Rappaport was convinced that anthropologists could make an important contribution to the greater understanding and amelioration of domestic social problems. The Task Force presented a number of panels at the Association's annual meetings. Some of the essays in this volume were presented first on these panels.
To Marvin Harris, my mentor and teacher, I owe a profound debt of gratitude for his teachings and his encouraging me to become an anthropologist. (Marvin, each of the co-authors had to listen more than once to my expounding on the critical usefulness of the emic/etic distinction in direct observation and collecting data on politically sensitive issues in one's own culture.)
I am also especially grateful to my friend, Estellie Smith, for her faithful--if sometimes cajoling--support. It was she who first suggested that the book be done and that I do it. (Estellie, I hope you were right and that it was worth it.)
In the political climate of 1995, it took time for housing as a human right to be revealed in the conclusion as the only logical framework for the summary analysis of the authors' policy recommendations. In general, Americans seemed to be growing less and less sympathetic to the deprived and destitute and more and more concerned about their own individual economic futures--not without reason. The comments of the experienced legal advocates, Steven Banks, Jane Sujen Bock, Andrew Scherer, and Justice Rajindar Sachar, helped reassure me that we were on the right track even though we might appear--for the moment--to be out of step. I thank each of them. I thank them all.