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

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

showed that diverting families back to double-ups did not work, except temporarily when families applying to the system for the first time accepted a modest food allowance as an incentive to remain doubled-up for one or two weeks longer before entering city shelters. The city also failed to comply with the law that families be placed in shelters by at least 8:00 A.M. the day after they applied and in the same neighborhoods where they had lived before so as not to disrupt their personal networks and school, work, and clinic schedules.


SUMMARY AND RECOMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1. The U.S. government should support the United Nations effort to recognize housing as a basic human right.

Recommendation 2. Federal and state governments should adjust public assistance payments to the Consumer Price Index, as with other forms of entitled income. This recommendation arises from the finding of this study that most homeless, doubled-up families were subsisting on a basic public assistance grant for food and all expenses other than rent and medical costs, a grant that had increased only 56 percent between 1969 and 1991. This modest increase could not keep pace with the almost 300 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index for the New York metropolitan region during the same time period. In addition, the public assistance shelter allowance was only half the amount needed to rent an apartment in the very expensive private market in New York City.

Recommendation 3. Federal and state governments should better fulfill their responsibility to oversee the administration of local public assistance programs, and local administrators should provide families with all the entitlements for which they are legally eligible. Findings from this study show that almost half of the doubled-up guest units did not receive the correct basic public assistance grants, food stamps, or shelter allowances. Almost all of them gave some money to their host units for rent, often more than half the monthly amounts these units paid to their landlords. In return, many did not even have their own room in the double-up.

Recommendation 4. Homelessness prevention programs at all levels of government should recognize unstable, doubled-up living as a form of homelessness. Section 8 rent subsidies should be available to all who are eligible, and federal funding for the construction of new, subsidized, low-income housing should be restored to previous levels. This study supports these recommendations. Most of the families in this research had never had their own apartments, and more than half had stayed in two or more double-ups before applying to the city for emergency shelter.

Recommendation 5. Public health and housing authorities at all levels of government should evaluate the significance for family health and child development of the overcrowding and lack of privacy experienced by homeless families who live doubled-up. Findings from this study show that less than half the doubled-up families had a room of their own. The mates of more than half the doubled-up

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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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