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

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview
munity institutions would do more to eliminate homelessness in the rural area than would the construction of public housing. Similarly, strengthening the rural community as a social surround, and linking low-income families more securely within it, could be an essential, and uniquely rural, strategy to reduce poverty and combat homelessness.
Recommendation #11. Toward accomplishing these goals, more applied and multidisciplinary social science research is needed. Comparative studies in different rural areas could elucidate specific regional and local causes, patterns, and variations, and could enable more effective response. More research is needed especially on the informal strategies and social resources poor people employ to keep themselves housed, so that these strategies could be fostered and replicated rather than overlooked or outlawed. Finally, research is needed on connections and comparisons between homelessness in rural and urban places, with the aim of developing more effective programs to prevent and combat homelessness, both urban and rural.

CONCLUSION

In light of the generally weak economy of most of rural America, poverty will probably continue to grow, and with it the potential for rural homelessness. The cost of modest rural housing appears to rise, even as the incomes of poor rural residents fall. Meanwhile, the number of low-income rural residents grows. To dismiss rural homelessness as a less pressing problem than urban homelessness simply because it is less visible, less concentrated, and involves fewer people would be a grave mistake. On the other hand, to address rural homelessness with programs designed for urban areas would be a serious misuse of resources. Because rural homelessness differs from urban homelessness, and because the rural economic, social, and cultural context in which it occurs also differs, different approaches are needed.


NOTES

Research for this article was supported by the Ford Foundation through the Rural Economic Policy Program of the Aspen Institute. Portions of this chapter have appeared in earlier publications ( Fitchen 1991b, 1992).

1.
In the rural United States, the number of low-rent housing units diminished from 1979 to 1985 relative to the growing number of low-income renters, transforming a surplus of low-rent housing to a shortfall of 500,000 units by 1985 ( Lazere, Leonard, and Kravitz 1989:11).
2.
While rural rents are still lower than urban rents in most places across the country, rural incomes compared to urban incomes are even lower ( Lazere, Leonard, and Kravitz 1989:20), leaving a rent burden at least as high in rural areas as in urban.
3.
In 1985, only 55 percent of poor rural households owned their homes, which is well above the level of home ownership among poor metropolitan households (32 percent), but

-16-

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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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