Homelessness in the United States--Data and Issues

By Jamshid A. Momeni | Go to book overview

7
Sweat and Blood: Sources of Income on a Southern Skid Row

R. Bruce Wiegand

The homeless live in abject poverty. Yet the social programs that have proliferated in the last decade do not give them money. Instead, these programs distribute food, shelter, and clothing. In the short run, they provide basic provisions in ample supply to those who care to use them. Shelter vacancies are common, even in cities where there are large concentrations of homeless ( U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1984), and soup kitchens feed the multitudes every night.

But the homeless need more than a hot meal and a roof overhead. Their self- respect, privacy, safety, health, and personal grooming depend on money. The common impression that the homeless are idle and have no need or desire for money is a far cry from what I found in my study. These individuals do have budgets. I found that these men spend on average $30-50 per week.

Frequently complaining about the theft that occurs in public shelters and having no safe place to store personal belongings, homeless men often rent lockers in bus stations. Bus lockers cost about $7 per week. They also spend their money on hotel rooms. Renting a private room in a hotel is a luxury to someone who is accustomed to sleeping outdoors or in a shelter with maybe 600 other men. The rented room, which costs approximately $50 per week or $8-10 per day, allows one to relax his guard in a way that does not occur in large shelters where violence is common.

The homeless also seek money for toiletries, telephone calls, and transportation. Like other Americans, they even like to treat themselves to food and drink. A 35-year-old man told me that when he can afford it he likes to eat at

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Homelessness in the United States--Data and Issues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figure and Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1: Counting the Homeless 1
  • Conclusion 13
  • References 15
  • 2: A Sociodemographic Profile of the Service-Using Homeless: Findings from a National Survey 17
  • References 36
  • 3: Food Sources and Intake of Homeless Persons 39
  • References 60
  • 4: Drug Abuse among Homeless People 61
  • References 76
  • 5: Homelessness as a Long-Term Housing Problem in America 81
  • References 90
  • 6: A Social-Psychiatric Perspective on Homelessness: Results from a Pittsburgh Study 95
  • Conclusions 107
  • References 108
  • References 108
  • References 108
  • 7: Sweat and Blood: Sources of Income on a Southern Skid Row 111
  • References 121
  • 8: Homeless Children and Their Caretakers 123
  • References 132
  • 9: Programs Dealing with Homelessness in the United States, Canada, and Britain 133
  • Conclusions 150
  • Acknowledgments 151
  • References 151
  • 10: Public Policies for Reducing Homelessness in America 153
  • Conclusion 163
  • Note 163
  • References 163
  • 11: No Place to Go: A National Picture of Homelessness in America 165
  • References 182
  • Select Bibliography 185
  • Index 191
  • About the Contributors 195
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