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

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

Introduction

Anna Lou Dehavenon

This book shows that shelter--one of the most basic elements of human adaptation--is lacking for substantial numbers of people in the United States, the world's wealthiest, most advanced industrialized nation. That not all of a society's members realize that society's shelter norms shows that its social organization fails to meet a basic human need--for the shelter they require to live in aggregated rather than isolated, atomistic groups.

When a society's standard approaches to securing shelter fail, people with the fewest social resources are forced to break the rules in order to survive. These chapters explore some of the rules and behavior patterns that evolved after the middle 1970s when different groups of Americans could no longer secure stable housing for themselves and their families. Essentially, what these new rules and behaviors demonstrate is a conflict between human and legal rights. This book is also about health and disease, since many of those whom American society fails to shelter are failed first when their chronic medical problems are not adequately cared for.

The idea for this book emerged from two symposia organized by the Task Force on Poverty and Homelessness of the American Anthropological Association for the association's annual meeting in 1988. One of the primary goals of the task force was to look more closely than others had yet done at the causes of the poverty and low-income housing shortage associated with U.S. homelessness. It seemed to the task force members that the methods anthropologists use are particularly well- suited to examining the impact of the lack of stable housing on the daily lives of low-income people.

This book's chapters also reflect two other goals: documentation of the experiential and geographic diversity of U.S. homelessness and articulation of policy recommendations based on the analysis of primary data collected using ethnographic methods. As a result, this book examines the homelessness of both adults with children and adults without children in three different settings: rural, urban,

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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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