The Department of Labor's Manpower programs provide a helpful model, but they also present many difficulties for the homeless. For example, most jobs require one's own transportation, and individuals are not paid often enough to meet their immediate needs.
Recommendation #5. Federal agencies should provide better support for family-preservation programs, which may include case management, counseling, jobs assistance, advocacy, day care, and training in parenting skills. These programs would not simply create more demonstration projects but would provide long- term, consistent assistance. Demonstration programs waste too much money on unneeded research, and they subordinate direct services to formalized studies that pay the wrong people to produce research results that are barely noticed. We already know what the most promising approaches are.
The city of Albuquerque's dual-affiliation, religion-based relief agencies, organized by fundamentalists and mainstreamers, are the primary providers of basic services to the homeless. Yet the effectiveness of their service delivery varies, because of the two blocs' differing assumptions and intentions in determining how and for whom services will be delivered. For example, fundamentalists tend to select homeless people who are the "most promising" for rehabilitation and to concentrate their energies on highly motivated, well functioning individuals. This forecloses services to the disabled and least successful among the homeless, leaving them for mainstream agencies to assist. Single women with children, and especially intact families, are their priority. Furthermore, they are antagonistic toward most public social services--e.g., welfare and secular counseling programs, especially if nonreligious family planning counseling is involved. Fundamentalists insist that individual bootstrap efforts and modified behavior are required.
Mainstream agencies are far more open to the most ill and disabled among the homeless, but they are less likely to work with them over the long haul. The exceptions are programs for the mentally ill, which exist to provide help over many months. Therefore, while the fundamentalist agencies are more selective in their efforts, they often work with the homeless for longer periods--if the motivation for rehabilitation is there. Mainstream agencies, by contrast, commonly provide short-term assistance.
Fundamentalist providers focus largely on client pathology and moral weakness. This approach removes homeless individuals from the contemporary urban socioeconomic context, internalizes their circumstances and transforms them into personal failings. Such a view ignores the broader, causal antecedents of their homelessness.
Religious groups structure the delivery of basic assistance to the homeless in such a way that analysis of homeless services cannot be undertaken without reference to the groups. Nationally, it appears that there is an increasing trend toward