rather than the chronically homeless. Mainstream churches offer their volunteers personal religious growth through service to God in a ministry to the chronic homeless.
In Chapter 8, Talmadge Wright and Anita Vermund examine a marginalized population that resists institutional power and challenges mainstream definitions of the "proper" use of public space in southern California. The city government sees park dwellers as "out of place," "out of control," and a potential threat to other people's property. The workers at the neighboring welfare center view the homeless as the "undeserving poor," displacing the structural dimensions of homelessness onto individual responsibility and avoiding the larger issues of wealth and power.
In Chapter 9, Brett Williams views gentrification and displacement in Washington, D.C. within the broad context of the political economy. She sees baby- boomers as consumers rather than agents of gentrification. Williams sets out to correct a failure in her previous work--not seeing the brutality in the displacement of low-income African Americans in the gentrification process.
This book documents a lack of national will in the United States to confront and solve the low-income housing crisis, and, more broadly and fundamentally, its root cause, poverty. There is thus a lack of consensus and cohesion among Americans, even with respect to certain basic values. When social will is absent, social organization is more likely to fail at the margins--in an economic sense-- where the homeless now live. When social will is present, as in most of the industrial nations of Western Europe, not as many people at the margins are forced or encouraged to behave illegally as many now are in the United States.
The "illegalities" described in the chapters of this book can be ascribed to both the homeless and the government. However, there is a substantial difference between the two. The illegalities of government are on a much grander scale, backed by physical force and usually hidden from public view. Examples cited by the authors include: political patronage ( Maxwell, Williams); corrupt and inadequate management of public facilities ( Maxwell); fraud in housing ( Maxwell, Williams), nonenforcement of housing codes ( Fitchen, Dehavenon), and illegal housing conversions ( Fitchen, Williams); inadequacies in providing emergency shelter and permanent housing for the impoverished ( Dehavenon, Phillips and Hamilton), and public health protection ( Dehavenon, Fitchen); manipulation of the social service delivery systems depriving the homeless of the welfare and Supplemental Social Security Income to which they are legally entitled ( Dehavenon, Robertson, Wright and Vermund, Robertson); unnecessary removal of children from the home ( Dehavenon, Fitchen); racial discrimination and segregation ( Bolger, Glasser, Williams); discrimination against families on welfare ( Dehavenon, Fitchen); obstruction of the enumeration of the homeless and displaced ( Williams); systematic and abusive