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

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

4
Doubling-Up and New York City's
Policies for Sheltering Homeless
Families

Anna Lou Dehavenon

Homeless families, like other families in the United States, need stable living space in which to socialize and enculturate children, store food, cook and eat, care for clothing, receive mail, use the telephone, and engage in adult sexual intercourse in accordance with the mainstream culture's rules of privacy. The author documents the search for the stable housing homeless families in New York City need to keep together, attend school, and work. However, the city government assumes that the housing standard for very-low-income families should be lower than for other families and that poor families should opt for living doubled-up, no matter how crowded, rather than using the public shelter system. Dehavenon recommends increasing rent subsidies for low-income families, the construction of more subsidized low-income housing, and the U.S. government's support of the United Nations' effort to recognize housing as a universal basic human right.


INTRODUCTION

Homelessness has many faces, some more visible than others: the single adults who stay in public places and the adults and families who stay in public shelters. These two groups make up most of the official homeless count. A third group, those who stay doubled-up in other people's living space because they cannot afford their own, is much less visible. The individuals and families in all three groups have one thing in common: the lack of shelter over which they have stable, legal control. This is the salient feature of the operational definition of homelessness used in the research on which this chapter is based. Furthermore, a "double- up" is defined as a living arrangement in which two or more families share the same space, for which the host family pays the rent to the landlord and the guest family does not.

As a strategy for obtaining shelter, doubling-up enables those who employ it to avoid the degradation of public shelters and being included in the government's

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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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