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Homeless near Watergate hotel. Washington, D.C. (1989)

Photo by Jim Hubbard (A)

A Proposal. 1

An Introduction. 7

The Origins of Homelessness. 15

Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization. 19


The Social Welfare State. 41

The End of the 20th Century. 57

Our Modern Era. 69

Looking Ahead: Current Models of Success. 84

Conclusions. 88

A Research Proposal.

The causes of homelessness in America are pervasive and diverse,

stretching across boundaries of age, gender, location, socioeconomic
status, and more. In an attempt to organize this large population, the
government categorizes the homeless into endless subgroups based on
circumstantial characteristics collected through data polls. While this
method is helpful for tab-keeping, it fails to consider the root causes of
why and how homelessness originates. Until the issue can be
approached from this perspective, both private and federal initiatives will
struggle to gain the insight necessary to identify thoughtful, effective,
and enduring solutions. This research will focus on reviewing major
causes of, and reactions to, homelessness within the United States.

Homelessness in America dates back to the countrys eighteenth-century inception. Society

originally perceived the homeless as an immoral group; their condition a character flaw rooted in a
lack of Christianity. In fact, communities would expel homeless passersby lest they were able to prove
their value to its members. In the latter case, individuals were permitted to stay in that community and
live on its streets (2). As a society, we have progressed beyond these primitive and cruel terms, yet
we maintained our misunderstanding of this countrys homeless populations. Regardless of how
closely one chooses to look, this ever-evolving group has remained a permanent component of
society, representing an underworld of Americans with no traditional sense of belonging.

Today, overwhelming statistics represent the numbers of Americans who go homeless each
night. Government reports keep tabs on every kind of homeless subgroup, taking into account
gender, age, shelter status, and location (1). Moreover, a long list of government and private initiatives
signal that America has long tried to solve the problem. In a cause-and-effect equation, reviewing the
circumstantial characteristics of different homeless populations falls neatly into the effect category,
shifting focus away from the events and conditions that initially caused the problem. This is an
unfortunate oversight because understanding these root issues is essential to generating long-term,
in contrast to band-aid, solutions. This paper aims to investigate the agents of change that have
caused, and continue to cause homelessness within the United States.

In order to understand the causes, it will be necessary to historicize the problem of

homelessness by examining the influence of change over time. Identifying specific watershed events,
and reviewing how those events have influenced what came afterwards - not only resulting
homelessness among the affected populations, but also the responses to it - will help to shape an
understanding of the relationship between homelessness and the countrys government, people, and
social attitudes. Research should include both those factors which have consistently contributed to
homelessness in America, such as racial, economic, and social inequality, as well as isolated issues,
such as natural disasters, depressions and other economic collapses, and welfare, unemployment,
and parallel policies that generated unintended and harmful consequences.

Looking at current long-standing issues within the context of historical precedents will also help
to mold an understanding of why issues exist in the form that they do today. As a result, this
investigation will continue reviewing causes of homelessness up to the present. This should include
not only how unresolved issues have evolved and intensified throughout history, but also how new
issues have emerged in response to the current political, social, and technological climate. Finally,
this research will look at the most current models of successful homelessness reform.

The primary research for this investigation will derive from existing literature on the topic. In
addition to scholarly articles, this collection of resources will include such texts as Down and Out, On
the Road: the Homeless in American History, by Kenneth Kusner, Causes of Homelessness, Vol. II, a
collection of works edited by Robert Hartmann McNamara, and Down and out in America: The Origins
of Homelessness by Peter H. Rossi. Moreover, this literature review will also include published federal
reports, such as the most recent Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), which can offer not
only an understanding on how the government accounts for and organizes the homeless population,
but can also serve as a resource for relevant statistics. Lastly, the review will look at private studies,
such as the one from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMA) Long-Term Care Network, which
surveyed over 500 former members who had experienced homelessness in the past (cite).

A Research Proposal.


Martin: Are you in a program now? Martin: How long have you been on the streets?

Cynthia: Right now, yeah. Jonathan: My mom never had a stable living
[situation], so I grew up with my mom, bouncing
Martin: So you got your own bed, same bed every from house to house, state to state, eviction to
night? eviction.

Cynthia: Its like day to day, the shelter. But I dont Martin: Were you partially homeless with your
know, its not really I end up always leaving every mom?
time I check in cause shelters are just not really
I tried it, its a program, they said work the program Jonathan: Yeah, growing up, I was already pretty
to help you in the way you want it to help you, but much raised on the streets, I guess you could say.
the shelter is not just for everybody. (B) So for me to be homeless wasnt all that much of a
transition, because I already was adapted to it, I
already knew how to survive. (B)


Martin: How long have you been living on the Martin: How long have you been living on the
street? streets?

Brian: About four months. Leonard: Oh, about off and on for six or seven
Martin: Where were you before?
Martin: Where did you live before?
Brian: In the hospital. They said Instead of letting
you go for your charges of vandalism, we believe Leonard: I lived with my auntie.
you require psychological treatment and
evaluation. And before I left, I told [the judge], You Martin: Have you been on psych meds all your
need a psychological evaluation and f*** you. And life?
they took me out.
Leonard: Yes, [since I was] eight years old.
Martin: And what happened next?
Martin: Schizophrenia?
Brian: They took me to a mental hospital. I stayed
there for two years and seven months. (B) Leonard: Yeah, schizophrenia. Bipolar, schizo.

Martin: Youre doing good?

Leonard: My meds are good. (B)

A Research Proposal.

Works Cited


1. United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development. Community Planning and Development.
The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment
Report (AHAR) to Congress November 2015. By Meghan
Henry, Azim Shivji, Tanya De Sousa, and Rebecca Cohen.

2. Fischer, Robert. "The History of Homelessness in America

1640s to Present." Downtown Congregations to End
Homelessness. N.p., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.
Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.
Jan. 2015. Web.


A. "Homelessness." Jim Hubbard Photo. Ed. Jim Hubbard.

N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. (Front Cover)
B. Wender, Jessie. "A Celebrity Portrait Artist Photographs
L.A.s Homeless." PROOF. N.p., 09 Nov. 2015. Web. 13
Dec. 2016.

An Introduction.

The following timeline, borrowing its terminology Nearly every trauma and systemic obstacle
from this papers chapter titles, focuses on key endured by the countrys white homeless
watershed events throughout history that have throughout history was experienced - in many
contributed to homelessness in America. cases to a more serious extent - by African
Organizing these agents of change Americans and other racial minorities.
chronologically will help to shape an Additionally, the race-specific factors of
understanding of not only what events have had prejudice, institutionalized discrimination, and
the greatest impact on homelessness, but also individual circumstance defined every
how society has absorbed these precedents generations experience of living as a minority in
and either addressed, or failed to address them. the United States. In times of economic turmoil
In the case of the latter, how have these events and stress (which, as this research will reveal
and their subsequent homelessness developed occurred all too often throughout U.S. history),
over time? Have they restructured and evolved these already-behind and stigmatized
with a changing society? And which events, as populations found themselves struggling to
the past can always serve to teach us, have survive, and uniquely vulnerable to falling into
continued to repeat themselves throughout homelessness.
Another critical issue surrounding
A couple of issues have historically entered into homelessness is substance abuse, a dynamic
the conversation of homelessness and warrant topic that has single-handedly reshaped the
addressing in each chapter of this research. American landscape throughout the course of
The issue of race, arguably this countrys most history. Between 1/3 and 1/2 of all American
fundamental problem, has penetrated nearly homeless misuse or abuse some form of
every aspect of American culture and politics. substance, representing a much wider
Native Americans were displaced from their percentage than that found amongst the
homes and judged for their ways of living when general population (4). The relationship
white settlers first came to America, and between substance abuse and homelessness is
continued to face marginalization and prejudice complicated, however, and the question of what
throughout the countrys development. African came first - drug and alcohol dependence, or
Americans spent the nations formative years homelessness - should direct any thoughtful
working as slaves, receiving no compensation conversation on the two subjects.
and second-class citizenship as they supported
the estates of wealthy white men. The effects of Most research points to the conclusion that
this initial disenchanfrisement persist today, as it substance abuse and homelessness are risk
both delayed individual racial progress, as well factors for each other, demonstrating a deeply
as cemented public perception of racial reciprocal and self-reinforcing relationship. In
minorities, particularly in the case of African other words, while the use of drugs or alcohol
Americans, as other. may initiate an original episode of homlessness,
the dependence on such substances emerges
as a means of surviving and coping with the

harsh demands of being homeless. Moreover, AMERICAS HISTORY WITH
addicted homeless individuals must contend
with the additional hurdles and stressors of HOMELESSNESS:
being denied involvement in shelters, their FROM COLONIAL-ERA
subsequent social support networks, and
services that cater to the homeless (5).

That is not to say that there are not exceptions to

this rule of cyclical causation. One study found
that the percentage of teenagers experiencing
homelessness as a direct result of substance
use is alarmingly high, with 1 in 5 of those
sampled identifiying substance as their main
reason for becoming homeless. Moreover,
drug-related factors that can increase the
likelood of homelessness include the age of the
onset of drug use, exposure to
substance-abusing peers, familial substance
use, and the presence of a psychological
disorder during ones time of using. In reality,
however, one must assess cases of homeless
and substance misuse on an individual basis to
gain a truly accurate idea of consequence
versus causation, always considering that no
single factor of homelessness - be it drug use,
domestic violence, economic instability, etc. -
typically operates on its own (5).


An Introduction.










An Introduction.

A few key terms can benefit any

conversation about homelessness
in the United States. This body of SHELTERED VS. UNSHELTERED
research will reveal findings on HOMELESSNESS
myriad different social and political
issues, demographics, major An unsheltered person resides in a place not meant
events, and more. The following for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks,
definitions will help to ground some abandoned buildings, or on the street.3
of this investigation.
A sheltered person resides in an emergency shelter,
including temporary emergency shelters only open
It is important to note that data
during severe weather, or transitional housing for
collected on homeless populations homeless persons who originally came from the
are never truly exact, largely streets or emergency shelters. 3
because so many varying
definitions of homelessness * Most homeless individuals do not stay completely
presently exist. The U.S. sheltered or unsheltered during their entire
Department of Housing and Urban episode(s) of homelessness. Due to weather
Development (HUD) uses a more conditions, housing environments, and myriad other
narrow definition that largely factors, many homeless oscillate between sheltered
pertains to sheltered homeless and unsheltered experiences to varying extents.
populations. Other indexes,
however, include broader scopes,
and sometimes recognizing families
who are doubled-up with others,
U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
which the HUD does not The HUD is the key government agency responsible for
acknowledge. Additional issues overseeing the United States housing market. Many
with reporting include flawed data programs operate within HUD, including the Federal
collection practices and, in terms of Housing Administration (FHA), HOPE VI, and programs
information collected from shelters, relating to public and Native American housing.1
discrepancies between shelter
capacities (1).

1-night estimates of both sheltered and
unsheltered homeless populations
performed annually by the Continuums of
Care nationwide wide on the last week of
January. 1

Other Permanent
Housing - housing with
RAPID REHOUSING is a housing model designed to or without services that is
provide temporary housing assistance to people
experiencing homelessness, moving them quickly out homeless people, but that
of homelessness and into permanent housing.1 does not require people
to have a disability.1

Emergency Shelter - facility

with the primary purpose of
providing temporary shelter Chronically Homeless Individuals:
for homeless persons. 1 a person who been continuously
homeless for a year, or experienced
at least four episode of
homelessness in the last 3 years. This
refers to people who are not part of a is also a person who has a disabling
family with children during their condition, which might include
episode of homelessness, and who are serious mental illness, addiction, or
under the age of 18.1 1
physical disability and/or illness.
refers to are people who are not * About 20% of the national homeless
homeless as a part of a family with population is chronically homeless.1
children, and who are not accompanied
by their parent or guardian during their
episode of homelessness and who are
between the ages of 18 and 24.1
Continuums of Care (CoC) - local
PARENTING YOUTH refers to anyone
planning bodies responsible for
parent or legal guardian of one or more coordinating the full range of
children who are present with or sleeping homelessness services in a geographic
in the same place as that youth parent, area.1
and who is not in the company of
someone over 24.1

FOSTER CARE is the temporary Transitional Housing Program: a place

arrangement of when a minor is placed which provides homeless people a place to
into a ward, group, or private home of a stay combined with supportive services for
up to 24 months. The aim of these programs
is typically arranged through a is to help homeless individuals overcome
government or social service agency..1
barriers to moving into and retaining
permanent housing.1
An Introduction.

South Bronx (1987)

Photo by Jim Hubbard (A)

Works Cited


1. United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development. Community Planning and Development.
The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment
Report (AHAR) to Congress November 2015. By Meghan
Henry, Azim Shivji, Tanya De Sousa, and Rebecca Cohen.
Web. 24 June 2016.

3. "A Guide to Counting Unsheltered Homeless People

Second Revision." U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development 2nd ser. (2008): n. pag. 2008. Web.

4. Kusmer, Kenneth L. Down and Out, on the Road: The

Homeless in American History. New York: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.
5. McNamara, Robert M. Homelessness in America. Vol. 2.
Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.


A. "Homelessness." Jim Hubbard Photo. Ed. Jim Hubbard.

N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. (Front Cover)

The Origins of Homelessness.


The presence of homeless Americans extends beggars existed. This changed, however with
back to the early colonial era of the 1600s, when the economic vicissitudes of the early
the western-thinking country began to recognize eighteenth-century, and by 1734 newspapers
a population it termed vagrant persons. The were reporting on the vast numbers of
mid-eighteenth century saw this public homeless in city streets. Around the same time,
perception evolve and subdivide, and a new chasms between the poor and wealthy began
term, sturdy beggars*, emerged to describe a increasing exponentially, and by the later of half
new wave of more aggressive and visible of the century a firm divide existed between the
homeless people (4). As the country underwent rich and the poor, especially in urban areas.
its many radical evolutions over the course of The countrys laborers struggled to cover their
the next three-plus centuries, this homeless familys expenses, and homelessness proved
subpopulation, the most vulnerable to change, an all-too-common consequence (4).
would continue to redefine itself as well.
Contributing to economic instability was the
The four main causes of homelessness during influx of European immigrants within the
the early colonial era were war, business, colonies. A 1729 European law that allowed for
immigration of the poor to the colonies, and a authorities to expel indigent migrants from
growing economic divide. The largest cause of provinces prompted hundreds of Scottish and
homelessness were the ongoing wars between Irish immigrants to flee to Boston. Six years
the existing Native Americans and the newer later, another law limited public welfare to
colonial settlers. King Phillips War of 1675-76, residents of European cities and propelled
fought between the Native Americans and the further westward migration. Many of these new
New England colonists, displaced large immigrants struggled to find work in America,
quantities of farmers to the neighboring coastal and high cases of homelessness arose
towns. Years later, The French and Indian War of amongst formerly indentured servants - those
1756-63 would have similar consequences. For who had traded years of working for a master
decades, in addition to displacing the Native for passage paid to the colonies. The issue
American population, this breed of conflict soon spread beyond Boston, and by the 1730s
continued to uproot colonist families, particularly several other major US cities experienced
in areas of New England and New York (4). similar cases of mass immigration (4).

Global fluctuations in trade and the price of In a panicked response to these escalating
commodities made it difficult for early colonists numbers, as well as in an effort to shield the
to keep afloat, particularly because of how tied problem from public view, the city of New York
in their economy, both agricultural and established its first institution meant for housing
manufacturing, was to the world market. Prior to and managing its homeless population. This
the 1700s, few sightings of the homeless or facility was a combination poor house, work
house, and house of correction (4).
It is worth noting that the responses to A couple factors of the pre-Industrial and
homelessness during this period, though pre-Civil War America did actually manage to
admittedly varied across colonies, took a keep rates of homelessness down, though not
decidedly pro-work approach. In large part always for the better. Primarily in the South, the
guided by the Quaker notion that work held an practice of slavery resulted in a conspicuous
essential role in achieving spirituality, lack of people living on the streets, allowing the
workhouses became a commonplace solution South to boast lower rates of homelessness
by the early 1700s. The advent of these houses, than in the North. Moreover, an awareness
which were little more than jails with provisions among white landowners of the proportional
for labor and where corporal punishment was advantage black people held over the
regularly practiced, exemplified the eras population fueled an aggressive agenda on
incarceration-based approach to handling a their part to reclaim and control runaway slaves.
growing homeless population (4). This The Revolutionary War actually spurred a
outside-in perception that the homeless are change in this cultural order in its invigoration of
inherently wrong, criminal, and in need of high volumes of slaves to run away from their
rehabilitation will persist well throughout history, masters in pursuit of freedom. In large
and is, in some cases, still in practice today. numbers, these escapees found themselves in
and out of jails for their commitment of petty
The Revolutionary War of 1776, in which crimes. Many preferred these temporary prison
America firmly broke from England and gained stays and sporadic homelessness to life under
its independence as a nation, contributed to a masters thumb (4).
another period of postwar struggle and poverty.
Citizens saw the devastation of war in their own Finally, despite the growing disparity of wealth
homes, and heavy instances of plague and within the country, the working class managed
unemployment abounded. The period also to avoid homelessness through shared efforts
introduced a new kind of homeless individual, and pure resourcefulness. By both working in
the tumbleweed, who for either the pursuit of family units and combining farming on leased
adventure or the plight of social insufficiences land with small-scale home manufacturing,
found him or herself unable to assimilate into farmers were able to maintain stable incomes.
conventional society. Moreover, when the In addition, affordable land in the Midwest
British evacuated New York in 1783, they left it enabled ambitious children of eastern farmers
distinctly susceptible to absorbing the postwar to purchase land in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
homeless. As jails and workhouses (4). Each of these factors contributed to the
experienced new levels of overcrowding, relatively low rates of pre-Industrial homeless, a
buildings went up to attempt to accommodate condition that would greatly change following
them (4). the countrys shift to an industrial,
factory-based society.

The Origins of Homelessness.

*A drawing depicting the resistence of sturdy beggars to help in the

colonist effort to tame the wilderness of the new land. Their unfavorable
title derived from an English term describing those who, despite
harboring no affliction which prevented from working, chose to spend
their time wandering or begging on the streets (C).

Works Cited


4. Kusmer, Kenneth L. Down and Out, on the Road: The

Homeless in American History. New York: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.


C. Joy. "Homelessness in Colonial America." Homelessness in

Colonial America. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization.

The period in which America underwent strategies for managing mass-scale

its most dramatic transformation from an homelessness. Beginning in the 1820s, urban
agrarian society to one that supported an municipalities started instituting vagrancy laws
industrial, factory-based workforce took place with the aim of cleaning up the streets and
predominantly between the years of 1890 and reducing begging (4). The act succeeded in
1920, terminating with a period of brief economic catering to the publics attitude of contempt
stability before the Great Depression of the towards the homeless, but did little to alleviate
1930s. This era, commonly referred to as the the overcrowding of city jails, which continued
Second Industrial Revolution, or Urbanization, to serve as the go-to housing solutions for the
represents a period of marked change in virtually local homeless (2).
every aspect of American life. From developing
cities to new technologies to racial and ethnic In keeping with a Quakerist pro-work mindset,
evolutions, the US entered into its next phase as and congruent with the eras new industrial
a developing nation. practices, New York City constructed its first two
treadmills in an effort to address the surplus
THE FIRST WAVE OF THE of homeless individuals occupying its jails.
REVOLUTION The treadmills, a consequence for breaking
no-begging laws, required that prisoners spend
Though a period of undeniable innovation and 8 minutes laboring and 8 minutes resting on and
progress, the Industrial Revolution was a bit off until 40 bushels of grain were produced. The
slow to get on its feet, and cultural shifts, ones practice was adopted by other cities, but the
that had direct impacts on the state of the required machinery soon proved too strenuous
homeless, often occurred in spurts throughout on prisoners physical and mental health,
the course of a century. Between 1820 and prompting citizens to protest on their behalf. By
1845 during the first Industrial Revolution, and the mid 1840s, the police recognized the need
lasting up until 1860, Americas coastal cities to provide lodging for the homeless, and some
began absorbing waves of new immigrants sympathetic individuals and charities organized
at rapid rates. Meanwhile, the advent of new, to offer aid (4). Still, the problem of homelessness
industrial manufacturing processes led to the would remain an insignificant, locally-addressed
collapse of the artisan trade, a lack of consistent topic until after the Civil War of the 1960s. The
employment opportunities were leaving seasonal issue would go on to gain national attention,
workers destitute in the winter months (4), and however, following the economic panic of 1873,
inadequate workplace safety regulations were also known as Black September. During this
causing high rates of disability and death. This period, unemployment rates rose significantly,
latter issue left widows and those disabled with and the nation saw a dramatic increase in the
no way to support themselves, and nowhere to size of its homeless population (5).
turn but the streets (2). Each of these events AMERICAS FIRST HOMELESS YOUTH
contributed to - and increased the visibility
of - the homeless of the nations emerging One unexpected outcome of the antebellum
metropolises. period in America was the unearthing of the
nations first widespread case of homeless
For one of the first times in history, major cities youth. The 1850s brought about the sudden
were confronted with the task of developing appearance of thousands of children,
predominantly boys, who belonged to no clear affecting the nature of homelessness in two
home and who settled on the outskirts of society. ways. First, it extended homelessness to new
One reason for the emergence of this new parts of the country and contributed to the rapid
population had to do with the increase of poor growth of major city populations. Secondly,
unmarried and widowed mothers. In many cases it enabled the phenomenon of the homeless
these women, in an effort to avoid homelessness hobo,(4) a new culture of homeless that were
themselves, would ask their sons or daughters as much a product of the changing industrial
to leave the family home. Unfortunately, these society as they were the definitive casualty of it.
women often fell into homelessness even after
discarding their children (4). Transients provided the highly mobile labor that
enabled the growth of the modern industry, but
RISE OF THE TRANSIENT HOBO the manner in which they presented themselves
proved in sharp contrast to the social standards
By the 1850s and 60s the introduction of the of the current society. Tramps were typically
railroad systems, including the nations first poorly educated, unmarried, childless, and often
transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869, struggled with substance abuse or some form of
restructured the working landscape and led to physical or mental illness (for which there existed
a considerable increase in transience amongst no public support network). As a consequence,
the homeless (4). The continual maintenance this new labor force, made up almost exclusively
railroads required, along with the concurring of single men, maintained a lowly public image
rise of large-scale commercial agriculture, of societys unworthy outcasts (7).
presented a newfound need for seasonal and
episodic labor. Moreover, the new railroad One of the transients biggest branding problems
system afforded laborers the means to travel was their reputation as being lazy and deviant;
to find work for the first time. In large numbers, presumably unconcerned with meeting the moral
restless Civil War Veterans, young males, and standards of society. The last quarter of the
immigrant laborers moved from town to town in 19th century saw the professionalizing of social
search of wage-earning opportunities, hoping to work and social science, and a tramp caste
find something amidst the economic downtown emerged amongst clinicians and other homeless
of the late 1800s. The jobs, often sourced experts looking to discern a hierarchy within this
through labor agents, typically required high transient population (7).
levels of both endurance and strength and
were neither reliable nor well-paid (6). In urban The term hobo merely referred to men out of
areas, projects included loading and unloading work, forced into the life of transient employment
ships or railroad freight cars, snow removal, by the current economic strains. This group
and constructing water supply and drainage typically involved younger men who were even
systems. Moreover, the workmen who travelled romanticized as young adventure seekers.
to the more remote, rural parts of the country Underneath this group were the tramps, who
often found tasks of lumbering, or working on lived a life of wandering but not necessarily in
railroads or highways (6). search of work (7). They obeyed the law, but
their reluctance to working broke sharply from
The period between 1865 and 1880 saw a vast the Victorian and Quaker ideals of the virtue
expansion of the rail network, resulting in two
Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization.

of work. Consequently, antagonism towards transient homeless began to gather in urban

tramps came to define the urban charities of the communities known as tramp districts or skid
time working to alleviate homelessness, and rows. A break from the growing contempt they
charity professionals expended much time and received from the general population, who
energy working to combat this population and harbored the opinion that transients aimed to
uphold their principles (4). drink all day while being supported by public
and/or charity, skid rows reprented a common
Last in the social order were vagrants, who, ground for members of this outcast community
in addition to not working, engaged in petty (4).
thievery, begging, and other antisocial conduct.
By 1916, other synonymous labels entered Towards the end of the nineteenth century, each
into the common vernacular, including bum, major city included a skid row area, including
driftwood, panhandler, and down-and-out. New Yorks Bowery, Chicagos Main Stem, and
These distinctions have generally eroded in Philadelphias Skid Row (7). These areas,
modern-day conversations about the homeless, populated almost exclusively by men, consisted
and public perception tends to lump the entirety of a variety of enterprises that catered to these
of the homeless population into a broad category poor, transient outcasts. These included hotels,
of street people. (7). lodging houses, and restaurants that offered
inexpensive housing and food (4). In time,
It is important to note that factors other than the hobos would come to settle in these skid row
economic hardships experienced during adult- areas permanantly, rather than use them as
hood contributed to this kind of unconventional familiar rest stops along their travels. This trend
homeless man. Many tramps of the late 1800s of long-term settling would continue until the
and early 20th century grew up to live such 1970s, when skid row areas were largely
heedless and detached lifestyles because of disbanded by the government (4).
instabilities experienced during their
childhoods. Many of these individuals were Another place transients spent their nights were
orphaned as youths, or came from abusive wayfarers lodges. Actually an attempt at
families. Moreover, one survey of tramps reforming the groups poor work habits, these
found that 48-59% had lost at least one parent at lodges were run by private organizations and
an early age, 25% had run away to escape offered shelter and food in exchange for labor,
abuse and violence, 45% had fathers who drank typically chopping wood or breaking stone. This
excessively, and 17% had mothers who abused reform strategy grew in popularity between 1883
alcohol (4). and 85, and some lodges even expanded to
include sewing rooms for women. Part of the
WHERE THE TRANSIENT SLEPT lodges success, however, can be attributed to
a concurring event propelled by the actions
These oft-travelling tumbleweeds were, in a anti-tramp campaigners. These tramp
sense, defined by their unattachments. They adversaries petitioned to close down police
operated along the outskirts of society, and station facilities that served as temporary
were typically unmarried and without offspring. shelters to transients, a campaign which
In response, however, to their collective resulted in the closing of many station houses,
rejection amongst the general population, the or tramp rooms, in major cities (4).
AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE postwar period of economic and social
CONSEQUENCES OF FREEDOM instability, many of these former slaves,
a quarter of whom were under the age of
Prior to the emancipation of enslaved 20, lacked the necessary skills to secure
African Americans in 1863, after which well-paying work. Over half of the black
many migrated up North, black residents population was illiterate (as compared
comprised just 10% of Philadelphias total to the illiterate 15% of whites), and very
population. Despite making up such a small few were skilled artisans, at a time when
percentage, African Americans accounted industrialization had not yet replaced artisinal
for 40-50% of all people imprisoned for business (4).
vagrancy in the city between 1823 and
1826, and 20% of the citys population Moreover, though the North was far more
(4). Though homelessness at the time racially progressive than the southern part
was a predominately white issue - largely of the country, African Americans still had to
because of black enslavement - these contend with widespread racial hostility and
statistics represent the disproportionate discrimination, sometimes amongst the white
disenchanfrisement that has come to define men with whom they competed for unskilled
the black experience in the United States. labor jobs. By 1875, homeless black vagrants
made up 3.3% of the homeless populations,
The Civil War, fought in the United States and made up the large proportion of working
between 1861 and 1865 under President servants (4).
Abraham Lincoln, involved a battle
between the Northern Union states and the
Confederacy of the South. Most historians
cite slavery as the cause of the war, a
practice that had been illegal in the North
since the late 18th and early 19th centuries,
but remained a largely depended-upon
aspect of the cotton economies operating
within the South and Southwest. The eventual
victory of the Northern Union states propelled
the release of millions of slaves, many of
whom migrated to the more prosperous and
progressive North. Indeed, the loss of the
Civil War yielded harsh times for the South,
who, unable to operate their once-profitable
cotton fields without a free labor force, fell
into a century-long economic slump. An African American Union Army
soldier during the US Civil War. By
the wars end, roughly 179,000
Though no longer slaves, the journey for black men had served in the US
newly-freed African Americans presented an Army, making up 10% of the Union
armed forces. An additional
entirely new host of obstacles. Entering in the 19,000 served in the Navy (E).

Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization.

UNEMPLOYMENT AND A strain of constant job searching on both ones

strength and sensibilities (4).
Between 1890 and 1920, nearly 16,000 Widespread instances of work-related injuries, a
businesses collapsed, unemployment rates consequence of the new factory-based
rose to 3 million, and the economy functioned at environments, also played a significant role in
around 25-30% below capacity. After a brief the rise of homelessness during this period. In
period of economy recovery in the 1880s 1913, a study revealed that industrial accidents
following the 1873 crash, America entered into accounted for 25,000 deaths each year, and
another recession in 1893. At the start of the caused 700,000 injuries. These injuries could
year, the homeless population stood at 45,000, put laborers, who depended on daily or hourly
but the number would double over the course of wages, out of work for indefinite amounts of
the next three years with an influx of new time. Moreover, contemporary studies on the
immigrants. By 1904, when the American topic suggest that somewhere between 1/5 and
population hovered at around 10 million, 12% 1/3 of homeless men were unable to work, either
were living under the poverty line. Consistently temporarily or permanently, due to physical
low wages had a lot to do with this - 60% of coal handicaps (4).
miners earned less than $450 per year (the
poverty line was set at $460, or approximately One of the more common factory-related
$12,240 today), and in the mid-Atlantic states, injuries, and one that demonstrated an
30% of the workforce earned less than $300 inadequacy on the part of society to properly
annually. Those that could find employment, address the new issues of its changing
however, even at these dismal rates, could landscape, was the loss of an eye. Though
count themselves as lucky, as even low-paying organizations existed to service the blind, no
jobs became difficult to come by (7). For rural such provision existed, either publicly or
laborers, agricultural work proved low-paying privately, to address the needs of those that had
and inconsistent in nature, and colder months partial vision. Other regularly-occuring
often forced men to head to cities in search of accidents involved riding the railroads, and
odd jobs (4). injuries were also often sustained as a result of
malnutrition, a work-inhibiting condition
Incidentally, the overall economy was ironically caused by a lack of steady income.
expanding during this time (7), due largely to the The temporarily handicapped, even those
proliferation of industrial and technological willing to work despite their injury, had to suffer
innovations. Ironically, however, it was the very through extended periods of social outcasting
nature of these new industries that were often at and being rejected for job opportunities. But it
the root of the employment crisis. New machines was the permanently handicapped, who were
that could single-handedly achieve the results of completely ineligible for paid labor, who almost
20 factory workers or day laborers, and could do surely ended up homeless and begging on the
it without food or bathroom breaks, consistently streets (4).
put men out of work. As the trend grew, terms
like underemployed and sporadically One could surmise that the period of
employed evolved to describe the average industrialization was one of investment in the
individuals experience, as did the double countrys infrastructure and industry, and
subsequently did not provide stable economic expansion and leadership. The process of
conditions or security during its building-up and transforming from an agrarian nation into one so
restructuring process. The innovations primed for the modern world, however, took a
established during this era - a sophisticated and considerable toll on those who had to
transcontinental railroad network, the telegraph, experience the shift.
the steam engine, etc. - unequivocally laid the
groundwork upon which enormous economic,
social, and political strides could be made, and
propelled the US into a new wave of global


Alcohol remained a firm fixture within the Opiates originally became popular in the
transient working communities, so much so US in the 1800s among women, who were
that people began to relate its use directly prescribed them by doctors, or could easily
to the making of tramps. Of course, purchase tonics and elixirs containing opium
many of these homeless men adopted the at their local drug stores. In the 1850s,
practice of drinking from their guardians, Chinese laborers who came to work on the
and most authors today recognize that the US railroads brought with them the practice
causal relationship between alcoholism and of smoking opium, which American culture
homelessness remains unclear (4) (as is would later popularize (8).
the overarching case with most substance
abuse and homelessness, the more time Following the Civil War, mass-scale opiate
one spends homeless, the more likely they addiction broke out amongst traumatized
become to use). veterans, many of whom had discovered
the drugs medicinal benefits during battle.
Regardless of the origin, alcoholism Later in the 1870s, and lasting throughout the
undeniably pervaded these skid row areas. 1890s, unsatisfied housewives began to use
In 1914, physicians examining 2,000 men opiates with syringes that became available
staying at the New York Municipal Lodging for purchase in retail stores (2). This issue of
House diagnosed 39% of them as syringe accessibility would actually go on to
suffering from alcoholism (4). What dominate future conversations regarding how
specifically constituted alcoholism at that time to combat drug use, with some states taking
remains unclear, but the findings certainly firm anti-syringe positions (10). Furthermore,
augment the case for a strong correlation an addiction to heroin, part of the opiate drug
between alcohol and the transient hobo family, began to grow in the early 1900s. The
class. drug became particularly prevalent within
northern industrial slums (8).
Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization.

A POST-WAR HOUSING CRISIS had enough buildings to support all of its new
residents, but had reached this mark as a result
Another critical issue during this period was of a decade of catch-up. History has come to
the scarcity of available housing in both cities regard this rise out of the shortage as a return to
and rural America, a shortage that left many the pre-war building status. The crisis had been
without any affordable housing options. As extinguished, but the country had lost 10 years
the country grew larger in population, the in building progress. (7)
sluggish production of new buildings, a result
of World War Is (1914-1918) disruption of new THE POPULATION BOOM
construction, could not accommodate these
new volumes of people. Indeed, between 1917 Several reasons factored into the growth of the
and 1918, the final two years of the war, almost US population, particularly within cities, during
no building took place apart from that of the the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As a
federal government. result of the 1890-1930 population boom,
the US welcomed an increase of 60 million
The resumption of private construction projects new residents, nearly doubling its overall
was expected to occur once the war ended, but population size. 47% of these new residents
the newly expensive costs of labor and materials were immigrants, who typically settled in the port
- double what costs had been prior to the war - cities where they landed, or migrated out factory
proved prohibitive. As a consequence, rates of or mining towns (7). The Irish in particular,
private building operated at markedly low rates prompted by Irelands Great Potato Famine of
in the years directly following the war. In 1920, 1845-49, emigrated to the states in mass waves.
new private construction reached its all-time In the 1850s, the highest point of Irish-American
low when it fell to 37% of previously standard migration, around 914,000 individuals settled
building rates. Amidst these shortages, rental in eastern cities, typically coming through New
costs for properties rose, forcing many families York harbor, or in the cases where transportation
to double up, and prompting developers to costs were cheaper, through Canada. By 1860,
further subdivided existing structures. Moreover, America had absorbed 1.7 million new Irish
the high costs of construction also prevented the immigrants, and by 1910 an additional 2.3
maintenance of buildings, and during this time million had come over and settled (9).
many pre-war properties fell into disrepair. Those
with no alternative housing options actually Though the Irish travelled overseas in the hopes
began taking advantage of these vacancies, and of escaping the depressed economy of their
squatted, or settled, in these abandoned and home country, their fates in the New World didnt
often unsound buildings (7). always fare much better. Many arrived to the
states in ill health and were promptly herded
Fortunately, the ensuing years of the 1920s off to overcrowded quarantine stations. This left
witnessed an incremental and reliable increase the impression upon Americans that the Irish
in new construction (7), a consequence, no carried filth and disease, setting into motion what
doubt, of the growing economic stability of the would become decades of harsh discrimination
decade. In 1926 signs of an end to the shortage toward the Irish immigrant population. Moreover,
became visible, and by 1928 the housing many of this new group were very poor, and the
shortage was definitively over. The country now difficulties this prejudice presented in securing

work led to ongoing struggles with
unemployment, poverty, and homelessness (9).

Contributing specifically to the expansion of

city populations was the significant surge of
people moving into urban parts of the country.
Many of these migrants included farmers,
previously settled in rural parts of America,
looking for new work opportunities as the status
of the agriculture industry declined. Other
key groups were African Americans, Italians,
Eastern Europeans, and Jews, who travelled
to Midwestern and northeastern in search of a
better, less oppressive lifestyle. The relocating
of these populations bolstered the percentage
of Americans living in urban areas from 35% in
1890, to 46% in 1910, to 52% in 1920 (7).

Americas Move Towards Urbanized Industrialization.

Hobos and other workers laying tracks to

build the Transcontinental Railroad (D).

Works Cited

2. Fischer, Robert. "The History of Homelessness in America

1640s to Present." Downtown
Congregations to End Homelessness. N.p., 17 Mar. 2014.
Web. 06 Nov. 2016.
4. Kusmer, Kenneth L. Down and Out, on the Road: The
Homeless in American History. New York: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.
5. McNamara, Robert M. Homelessness in America. Vol. 2.
Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.
6. Rossi, Peter H. Down and out in America: The
Origins of Homelessness. Chicago: U of Chicago,
1989. Print.
7. Bassuk, Ellen, and Deborah Franklin. "Homelessness Past
and Present: The Case of the United States, 1890-1925."
New England Journal of Public Policy 8.1 (1992): n. pag.
ScholarWorks, 23 Mar. 1992. Web.
8. "A Social History of America's Most Popular Drugs."
Editorial. Frontline. PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
9. "Irish Immigration." Immigration to North America. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
10. "Syringe Prescription in Rhode Island: A Case Study."
Syringe Prescription in Rhode Island: A Case Study. N.p.,


D. Hix, Lisa. "Dont Call Them Bums: The Unsung History of

Americas Hard-Working Hoboes." Collectors Weekly. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

E. "Black Soldiers in the Civil War." National Archives and

Records Administration. National Archives and Records
Administration, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

The Great Depression and the New Deal.

The Great Depression of the 1930s, set in led to bouts of passivity and, in the worst cases,
motion by the Black Tuesday crash of October suicide. The era of the Depression witnessed
1929 and lasting more or less until Americas a steady increase in the nations suicide rate,
1941 entrance into World War II, represented rising from 14 out of every 100,000 individuals
a period of unique nationwide strife. A new in 1929 to 17.3 per 100,000 in 1932. The sense
kind of poor person emerged, one that had of despair felt among the nations people had
been successful in earlier years but had lost to do, in part, with their individual resignations
savings when the economy crumbled. Many of to suffer their downturns privately. This shame
these new poor, largely coming from middle derived from the historically consistent public
and working class backgrounds, had never opinion that most poverty was self-inflicted.
experienced extreme poverty or homelessness Traditionally, the perception had been that
in their lifetimes. The current set up of society, public assistance and charity should remain
however, made it increasingly difficult to largely inaccessible, and handled entirely at
avoid. Weekly wages in manufacturing jobs fell the local level. The present culture viewed
from $24.76 in 1929 to $16.65 by 1933, and easy-to-obtain relief efforts as dangerous to the
laborers on average came to expect meager growth of a healthy society, and something that
10 cent-per-hour compensations. Moreover, would foster a large and permanent class of
women in sweatshops received pay rates of aid-dependent citizens. Moreover, the receipt
60 cents to a dollar for 55-hour work weeks. As of public assistance threatened to upset the
wages plummeted, costs for basic necessities natural workings of the free enterprise system
rose. In 1933, bread was selling for 7 cents a by discouraging workers from taking jobs at
loaf, eggs for 29 cents a dozen, and milk for 10 market-determined wages (12).
cents a quart (12).
This philosophy persisted into the early months
Meanwhile, gross maldistribution of the countrys of the Depression, supported by a federal
wealth furthered the divide between the haves government that operated on the premise
and the have nots. In a country where the richest that public aid would cause more harm
Americans held on to 54.4% of the total personal than good. By the 1930s, however, national
income, and the upper 5% received 30%, a suffering grew to such an extent that it became
little less than half of Americans shared a mere difficult to continue to blame individuals
12.5% of all personal income money (12). So for their impoverished circumstances (12).
while most people did lose their savings and fall This shifting attitude led to the election of
several rungs down the economic ladder, there government-promoting Democrat Franklin
persisted a distinct upper class whose continued Delano Roosevelt (FDR). The election of such a
prosperity both highlighted the struggles of the president, who would go on to implement one
poor, and offered a degree of disillusionment of the most aggressive and prolific government
regarding the state of the overall economy. service programs in US history, signaled a
This latter sentiment was reinforced by early marked change in public opinion toward the
Depression-era President Herbert Hoover, who idea of government aid and intervention. In
insisted during his presidency that the economy fact, few presidential administrations have so
remained sound (12). thoroughly demonstrated the dichotomous roles
the federal government can serve within the
Self-blame among this new poor for their status lives of its citizens as those of Depression-era
leaders Herbert Hoover and FDR.
HOOVERS DEPRESSION Hoovers perceived lack of success during the
first years of the Depression, a perception that
Herbert Hoover, a steadfast and principled cost him a second term in office at the hands of a
Republican and Quaker, served as the 31st frustrated public, resulted from an inconsistency
president of the United States between 1929 between his beliefs regarding the appropriate
and 1933. Hoovers election followed a period role of the federal government and the growing
of economic prosperity under president Calvin need amongst citizens for large-scale support.
Coolidge, but was quickly marred by the stock Hoover feared that to provide federal aid to
market crash that took place only a few months the public would create a dependence on the
into his term. Leading up to the Depression, government, and acted in accordance with
the country experienced an economic boom this belief even after his presidency entered
in which the stock market rose from 60 in 1920 into the depths of a worsening Depression.
to a peak of 381 on September 3, 1929. A little His philosophy, commonly referred to as
less than two months later, on October 24th, Progressive Individualism, promoted the idea
the stock market crashed, and continued falling that the bulk of power and decision-making
until it reached its lowest point on October 29th. should stay closely with the people, believing
This date came to be known as Black Friday, that it should be the priority of independent
and it represents the worst day in stock market societies to care and provide for their less
history to-date (13). fortunate members. A proponent of private
volunteerism, Hoover worried that the allocation
The causes which led to the long-term of federal funds for public relief projects would
Depression of the 1930s remain controversial only result in the growth of new unwieldy,
among economists and historians. One factor unresponsive, and inefficient bureaucracies
that is generally accepted as truth, however, was (12).
the abundance of on-credit buying practices
that resulted in vast amounts of consumer debt. That is not to say that Hoover remained in any
Another theory blames the easy-money policies way apathetic in his role as president. In fact,
of the 1920s, which encouraged heavy, but often some of the relief efforts he introduced generated
mis- or underinformed investment in the stock criticism among conservatives who felt he was
market. And a third cause had to do with the moving in a socialist direction. Indeed, his
decreased presence of American goods within presidency represented a defiant break from
foreign markets as a result of tariff and war-debt past laissez faire attitudes toward governing, and
policies that grew out of World War I (13). his administration drew attacks from those who
Coolidges failure to appropriately manage these felt he was doing too much to expand the role of
rising concerns contributed to an ensuing period the federal government. One of these sources
of economic desperation that would only begin of contention was a conference Hoover called
to temper with the drastic efforts of FDRs New during his first year in office that sought to devise
Deal, and Americas participation in the Second a strategy for curtailing the falling employment
World War. Unfortunately, Hoovers inadequate rates. A strong example of Hoovers willingness
response to the crisis he inherited would delay to moderate his small-government views in cases
such relief for a suffering public. where it benefitted the people, his Conference
for Continued Industrial Progress produced a
four-pronged agenda that required considerable
The Great Depression and the New Deal.

amounts of federal assistance. The program cases of unemployment. Moreover, November

consisted of the goals to 1 - maintain current and December saw alarmingly high rates of
wage rates, 2 - distribute available work to bank failures. The modest impacts of Hoovers
as many employees as possible, 3 - increase initiatives by this time, coupled with a growing
business and government construction, and campaign from Democrats to characterize him
4 - organize voluntary committees to provide as a do-nothing leader (13), cemented his fate
assistance to the unemployed (13). as a one-term president.

In January, Hoover instituted one of his more History would go on to celebrate the progress
aggressive actions as president, a public of FDRs New Deal while juxtaposing it against
works program that authorized $3.5 billion in Hoovers less exceptional and short-lived
construction projects over the course of the next efforts while in office. However, one shouldnt
three years (12). Mainly these projects consisted discount the impact his prolific first year had
of road construction and public buildings, such on growing the powers of the presidency - a
as the National Archives building and a new precedent that in many ways enabled FDRs
structure for the Supreme Court. Additionally, then-radical policies to push forward. Indeed,
a considerable percentage of the allocated historian Robert Sobel, a well-known professor
funding went into the development of the of business history who was born into the
eponymously named Hoover Dam, a 5-year-long Depression, asserted that no peacetime
project located within the Colorado River. president since Jefferson had done more to
That same year, Hoover demonstrated further expand the powers of the presidency than
flexibility toward his aid-resistant position by Hoover did in that one year (13). One could
establishing the Grain Stabilization Corporation. also conclude that Hoovers ideas about how to
The program, an effort to relieve the deepening govern, and the specific programs he put forth
farm crisis, involved the prompt purchase of in an effort to reduce public suffering, would
federal wheat. By the summer of that year, the have been more successful in a less tumultuous
government had invested $90 million on 65 time. The widespread relief experienced under
million wheat bushels, demonstrating the most the FDRs public-aid driven administration,
direct federal involvement in the private sector however, suggests that the problems of the
up until that point. Unfortunately, the nations 1930s were so deep and widespread that
farmers experienced little relief, as a severe what the country really needed, and what FDR
drought in 1930 affecting the middle portion of succeeded in giving them, was a large and
the country propelled rural areas, long-suffering aggressive relief effort.
from the decline in agriculture since the
Industrial Revolution and the 1920s, into further
devastation (13).

By the end of 1930, America was settling into the

idea that the Depression, originally appearing
comparable to short term recessions of the
past, was much more serious than assumed.
Businesses began cutting back on both their pay
wages and their workforces, leading to more

The decrease in land productivity as a result of the 1930 drought plunged much of rural America into even deeper
poverty, having a unique impact on the youth in these areas. Children suffered widespread cases of dietary
diseases and malnutrition while under the care of parents who couldnt afford to feed them. As a consequence of
this undernourishment, and the impact it had on a childs ability to resist diseases, the death rate among
Depression-era youth began to rise (15).

The Great Depression and the New Deal.


THE PROHIBITION-ERA DEPRESSION After 12 years of Republican presidencies,
Democrats were eager to welcome presidential
In the 1920s, the country adopted the 18th
legacy FDR into the White House. Roosevelts
Amendment to the Constitution that called
12-year period in office, the longest presidential
for the illegalization of making, selling,
run in US history, represented a time of
or transporting alcohol. This Prohibition
remarkable change in US domestic policy. FDRs
Amendment, most commonly associated
New Deal famously operated along the principles
with the clandestine speakeasy operations
of three basic Rs - relief, the idea of immediately
of the roaring 1920s, also persisted into
providing for Americans and alleviating their
the beginning of the Depression-era 1930s.
present stressors, recovery, the aim to begin
Though the amendment was repealed by
motions towards a sustainable and long-term
the end of 1933, prompted in part by FDRs
recovery, and reform, the effort of amending
acknowledgement that a legalized liquor
the poor trading practices, lending practices,
industry could generate jobs and revenue,
and corruption that defined the current banking
Americans had to endure the negative effects
and financial industries (17). Significantly, the
of the countrys noble experiment while
social welfare and regulation provided through
adjusting to their new economic hardships.
the New Deals programs set a new standard for
Consequences of Prohibition included a
government intervention in public life - a standard
marked rise in criminal activity and gang
that the subsequent seven administrations would
violence associated with bootlegging - the
largely acknowledge and accept.
practice of illegally producing and selling
liquor. In addition, illegalizing the sale of
alcohol also meant further deprivations for THE HUNDRED DAYS CONGRESS
the responsibly-drinking poor, who couldnt
afford the secretly produced and expensive The winter preceding FDRs 1933 inauguration
spirits available (16). accounted for the Depressions most desperate
A SECOND WAVE OF OPIATE period. Between 13-18 million Americans
were unemployed, and Hoovers relief-based
contributions, lacking hugely in direct aid,
The 1930s and 40s ushered in another failed to produce a meaningful impact on those
opiate popularity since the first case of who were suffering (12). Aware of the publics
mass-dependence following the Civil War. unrest, FDR entered into office with the promise
Part of this resulted from the new using of swiftly enacting his lofty New Deal agenda,
culture of the Harlem jazz scene hipsters, which consisted of a series of federally-funded
(8), but the overall fatigue experience during predominantly domestic programs created
the Depression undoubtedly contributed with full cognizance of the crisis at hand. These
to the drugs appeal. The main supplier of myriad programs, cheekily coined the alphabet
heroin to the States during this time was a agencies or alphabet soup for the abundance
collection of Corsican gangsters and Sicilian of letters each agencys acronyms produced,
mafia members known as the French individually addressed various painful aspects
Connection (8). of the Depression. Moreover, because FDR did
in fact favor systems of indirect aid over the The Federal Emergency Relief Administration
necessary next step of providing direct and (FERA), implemented in May 1933 (17), was an
immediate assistance to the public, many of example of direct federal aid prompted by the
these programs sought to provide both instant belief that states would not be able to recover
and long-term relief. Working in tandem with on their own. FERA dispensed grants to states at
a supportive Congress (and in spite of an an extraordinary speed, dolling out close to $1
adversarial Supreme Court), FDR was able to billion of support in its first three years (12). In its
realize many key programs within his first 100 initial wave of spending, FERA invested roughly
days as president. The large volume of new $500 million into the state recovery, assigning
assistance that resulted from this Hundred half of that amount to bail out efforts for bankrupt
Days Congress (17) confirmed the new states and local governments. Out of FERA also
administration as one that planned to make came the Civil Works Administration (CWA),
good on its campaign promises. which worked to generate temporary labor
opportunities for the chronically unemployed
The very first thing FDR did in office was to (17). The CWA proved strikingly successful in
declare a five-day moratorium on banking, hoping putting people to work, creating over 400,000
that a short break could give the countrys new projects, and employing 4 million out-of-work
surviving banks - 1,500 had closed under the Americans, in its first four months (12).
Hoover administration - a chance to regain some
of their footing. This led shortly thereafter to the In acknowledgment of the uniquely-felt hardships
passing of the Emergency Banking Act (EBA) of farmers, Congress passed the controversial
to increase government regulation on banking Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). The AAA
transactions and foreign exchange. Promptly aimed to give farmers a leg up by temporarily
after that, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall lowering prices on essential agricultural products.
Banking Reform Act (GSA) to protect savings The administration also acknowledged the
deposits, which led to the creation of yet problem of crop overproduction, a consequence
another agency, The Federal Deposit Insurance of a panicked farming communitys attempt to
Corporation (FDIC), which could insure an make more money through the growing and
individuals savings of up to $5,000. Further selling of additional crops. Too many of these
federal intervention came later on in these individual efforts caused the plan to backfire, and
first 100 days with a series of new regulations the market soon became saturated with a surplus
imposed upon the economys financial sector, as of crops that drove product prices down. In an
well as the Securities and Exchange Commission attempt to remedy the problem, the AAA began to
(SEC). This new commission was put in charge subsidize farmers to slow down production. The
of regulating trading on Wall Street (17), an malnourished poor took issue with this initiative,
effort to provide a check on an operation known however, as it inevitably meant the widespread
for its questionable practices. These programs destruction of edible crops (17).
sought to both protect the nations wealth as well
as preserve an ethical private sector. Through Another controversial point of AAAs practices
its implementation of saving strategies and was its dispersal of aid exclusively to land owners
increasing the governments role as a private (17), presumably operating upon the notion that
sector watchdog, FDRs administration hoped to a trickle-down effect would benefit the otherwise
prevent a future massive economic collapse. overlooked sharecroppers and tenant farmers.

The Great Depression and the New Deal.

Moreover, this latter population had another, Contributing to the presidents predicament
more serious reason to feel resentful towards were the conflicting criticisms he received
the AAA. Though not the intention of the agency, from conservatives, bankers, and Wall Street
the funds administered to land owners enabled financiers who claimed he offered too many
them to purchase new farming equipment, a public handouts, and far leftists who argued
previously out-of-reach technology that could that he dispensed insufficient amounts of
render the responsibilities of sharecroppers and federal money into relief and assistance efforts.
tenant farmers obsolete (17). This leftist point has actually been somewhat
supported by historians, many of whom believing
Other programs enacted within this first 100 that FDRs relative reluctance to increase federal
days varied between targeting special interest spending, especially in the form of direct aid, had
groups and attempts made at reviving the an impact of the suffering of Americans during
economy as a whole. The first effort made in this time (17).
regards to the latter was the National Industrial
Recovery Act, which, through its creation of the By 1935, however, amidst an impending 1936
National Recovery Administration (NRA), worked election, FDR made his choice to align firmly with
to improve corporate competition, energize the aid-championing left, a decision that had an
industrial production, and drive up consumer undoubtedly significant impact on the nations
prices by limiting the production of goods (17). poor. Drawing again from the philosophy of
This act paved the way for the Public Works British economist John Maynard Keynes, whos
Administration (PWA), which aimed to stimulate theory that government deficit spending could
the economy through government-funded public actually jump-start the economy had inspired the
works projects that would improve national original New Deal, FDR braced for a new wave of
infrastructure and in turn pump more money into bolder, higher-spending legislation (17).
the economy (12). The PWA, while successful in
achieving the construction of numerous public Notable initiatives to come out of the Second
roads, bridges, and buildings (17), unfortunately New Deal focused on both the immediate and
failed to revitalize the economy that FDR had prospective futures of the American economy.
hoped for (12). The Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of
1935 authorized unprecedented funding
toward work-relief programs, one of which
1935s SECOND NEW DEAL the moderately effective and popular Works
Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA
The progress of this first 100 days of FDRs provided jobs for 1/4 of all unemployed workers,
presidency is worth reviewing in detail due to amounting to millions of unskilled laborers and
its succinct explanation of the administrations middle classmen, through the development
specific relief strategy. FDR would continue to of new building, bridge, and roads projects
enact aid-providing programs throughout his (12). Acknowledging the programs success,
first term in office, many of which were able Congress funneled over $10 billion into these
to provide the immediate relief the country job-creating projects over the course of the next
needed. The presidents goal to get reelected, decade (17).
however, continued to rattle his confidence in
pushing forward with a few of his agendas.
That same year, the FDR administration devised assistance by implementing their own measures
the hugely effective Social Security Act, which, of generating revenue, such as New Jerseys
funded through a double-tax on all work-related issuance of licenses to beg (12). The growing
paychecks, created a federal retiree pension frustration with the state of the country, coupled
system to supplement a workers retirement. with the poor taste his previous effort to fill the
This progressive plan succeeded not only in Supreme Court with 6 new like-minded justices
alleviating societys destitute, but also in inspiring left on Americans, ushered in a new era of
a sense of equality among working men. As waning popularity for Roosevelt amongst the
an example of FDRs lingering conservatism, public and Washington alike. The presidents
however, Social Security benefits were not tarnished reputation led to House and Senate
afforded to either women or African American voting that restored Republican power, and
laborers (17). FDR stuggled to push further agendas through
a more conservative Congress. By 1938, FDRs
The continuation of the Second New Deal once-shining New Deal, responsible for creating
into 1938 saw the advent of further legislation jobs, feeding the homeless, and contributing
supporting farmers, homeowners, and laborers. immensely to the countrys infrastructure,
The quantifiable results of many of these acts - became a casualty of a shifting tide (17).
such as the building of over half a million urban
properties under The United States Housing Though the New Deal helped countless citizens
Authority (USHA), generated widespread survive the Depression, it is not generally
support for FDR and a newfound confidence credited with getting America out of it. That
in Americas future as an economically stable achievement belongs to Americas participation
country (17). Furthermore, many Americans felt in World War II, when the demand for new
that, as citizens, the government owed them materials, and subsequently, new industries,
relief from the hardships of the Depression, and invigorated the US economy in ways it hadnt
that they remained responsible for ensuring that experienced in years. One of the most significant
every man willing to work could obtain a job events to come out of this period was the growth
(12). of the aerospace industry, a response to the
newly critical need for wartime aircrafts. So
As the decade progressed, however, and FDR prosperous were the businesses maintaining
started to shift his attention toward international aircraft production and performance that by
affairs, he also withdrew large amounts of the wars end, aerospace had eclipsed the car
funding from various New Deal projects. FDR industry as a leader of the American economy.
believed that the current economy, propped Similarly, the founding of the Defense Plant
up by years of widespread federal aid, could Corporation (DPC) in 1940, created to finance
support the reduction in government assistance. and supervise the construction and equipping
A second stock market crash in 1937, however, of industrial facilities, led to marked increases
propelled the nation into a second economic in government investment in private industrial
recession and proved Roosevelt woefully wrong capital. By 1943, the US government accounted
(17). Americans found themselves struck, with for 67% of all nationwide capital investment,
unemployment rates rising to 15% and close revealing a vast, and quick, turnaround of the
to 8 million people out of work. Some states economy (14).
attempted to compensate for the lack of public

The Great Depression and the New Deal.

The early American settlers established a As difficult as the Depression was for most
contentious relationship with the nations American citizens, the period presented
native residents, and in doing cemented unique challenges to African Americans.
a long-standing hostility between the As a consequence of slavery, many African
white men who had found America, and Americans lived in the rural South, largely
the Native Americans who had previously impovershed and working as sharecroppers
inhabited it. A piece of legislation within and tenant farmers. These individuals lived
FDRs New Deal, propelled, no doubt, by on farms operated by white landowners,
both a political obligation as well as the whos own struggles during the Depression,
presidents own moral agenda, sought particularly their loss of land, had a direct
to address the historically oppressed impact on the black men and women who
population. During Roosevelts second term worked under them (15). Moreover, barely
in office in 1934, he and Congress passed any communities in the deep South had
the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). The municipal shelters, and the few that did
initiative sought to both acknowledge the excluded African Americans(4).
tribe-based political system of the Native
American population, as well as offer it African Americans in the North fared slightly
federal assistance. Additionally, the IRA better in terms of housing provisions, as
reversed the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887, shelters typically admitted both races.
which prevented tribal councils, as opposed Despite allowing admittance, however,
to individuals, from owning land (17). the locations of these shelters were often
located in areas inconvenient to black
The Act saw moderate success among the neighborhoods. The Colored Branch of the
Native American community, with some tribes Salvation could be credited for providing
struggling to understand its terms, and others black-friendly shelters in New York, offering
disapproving of them. Conversely, many one in Harlem that was clean, but had a
members of the populations sought relief in modest bed count, and another on E. 25th
alternative aspects of the New Deal which street. Moreover, Chicago offered arguably
could offer them more immediate attention. the best provisions in the country, opening a
Large numbers of Native Americans, many of shelter run by the Urban League in the citys
them young men, found more benefit in the South Side black belt (4).
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Public
Works Administration (PWA), and the Works Though these few housing options existed,
Progress Administration (WPA) (17). one could still conclude that life for urban
African Americans was harder than it was for
those settled in the South. The jobs available
included harsh laboring tasks in often
dangerous environments, such as foundries.
(15). Moreover, African American workers One of the most significant results to come
had to compete for these positions alongside out of this era was a shift in African American
majorities of white men, often combatting political leanings. FDRs popularity among
racism and discrimination in the process. black citizens moved many of them away
from Lincoln-era Republicanism and into the
Most policy up until this point had overlooked arms of the Democratic party. Moreover, the
the race entirely, and FDR understood the populations general allegiance to Democrats
strain that supporting them through New signified their newfound interest in and
Deal efforts could place on his political hopefulness for contemporary politics (12).
standing in the South. On the other hand,
FDR also recognized the rising significance
of the African American vote in the North.
Consequently, the administration focused
more on indirect servicing of black citizens
through legislation that benfited larger the
groups of which black were members.
Moreover, some of FDRs (modest) moves
towards a post-racial society were more
transparent, such as referendums within the
AAA that enabled African Americans to vote
for the first time, and the creation of the Farm
Security Administration (FSA) in the late
1930s that made it possible for black citizens
to buy and rehabilitate farms (12).

Despite FDRs woefully limited deliverance

to African Americans during this era, the
community still recognized him as a president
who cared far more about their success than
others. This was due in part to FDRs keen
ability as a communicator; despite meager
policy efforts, he still managed to express a
similar degree of caring to blacks as he did
to whites. It was also encouraging that the
president enlarged the practice of consulting
with prominent black men. Though everyone
hired as consultants within his administration,
it begs to be noted, were assigned to consult
specifically on racial affairs (12).

The Great Depression and the New Deal.

A scene from Depression-era rural America (15).

Works Cited


4. Kusmer, Kenneth L. Down and Out, on the Road: The

Homeless in American History. New York: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.
5. McNamara, Robert M. Homelessness in America. Vol. 2.
Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.
6. Rossi, Peter H. Down and out in America: The
Origins of Homelessness. Chicago: U of Chicago,
1989. Print.
8. "A Social History of America's Most Popular Drugs."
Editorial. Frontline. PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
10. Roger Lowenstein, "History Repeating," Wall Street Journal
Jan 14, 2015.
11. Howard, Ella. Homeless: Poverty and Place in Urban
America. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2013. Print.
Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.
Jan. 2015. Web.
12. Down and Out in the Great Depression : Letters from the
Forgotten Man (2) by McElvaine, Robert S.

13. "The Presidential Timeline." Presidential Timeline. N.p.,

n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

14. "How Did World War II End the Great Depression?:

Echoes." Bloomberg, 16 Dec. 2011. Web.
09 Jan. 2017.

15. "Life During the Great Depression." N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan.

Television Networks, 2009. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

17. "The Great Depression." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d.

Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

The Social Welfare State.

The notion of a welfare state, though varying TRUMANS 21-POINT PLAN

widely amongst countries, typically refers to a
model of governing in which the state accepts World War II ended in August 1945, allowing the
responsibility for the comprehensive and current administration under Harry S. Truman
universal health, happiness, and fortunes of its to turn its focus back toward domestic policy.
citizens, often in the form of financial aid. As Truman, who considered himself a New Deal
compared to other countries, Americas central Democrat, understood the implications of a
government has historically limited its welfare postwar America - 12 million soldiers looking for
provisions (18). The New Deals expansive jobs, unrest among laborers, and a shortage of
effort to provide welfare to citizens, however, consumer goods. He spent his first years in office
along with the countrys continued industrial devising an economic plan that he hoped would
growth, set into motion a new wave of organized usher in a new era of prosperity and stability (28).
government involvement in economic and
social affairs that would last until the Reagan In Trumans 1945 message to Congress, the
administration of the 1980s. Even Republicans president outlined a 21-point domestic policy
such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and his VP/later plan that addressed his goals for wage rates
US president Richard Nixon adopted welfare and regulations, employment security, medical
strategies, including Eisenhowers Interstate insurance, housing aid, and veteran benefits.
Highway System of the 1950s, and Nixons As he attempted to implement these initiatives
Environmental Protection Agency of the 1970s during his first couple years, however, he was
(19). As a consequence of this unique period thwarted by reoccurring labor strikes. Trumans
of federal support, the period between 1940 subsequent efforts to force laborers back
and 1980 is viewed as the welfare state era of to work resulted in dissonance between the
American history. population and their president, most notably in
May of 1946 when obstinate railroad workers
defied the president and walked off the job.
FDRS SUCCESSORS The incident temporarily halted transportation
of both passengers and commercial goods,
Part of what maintained the welfare state in tainting Trumans reputation and contributing
the US was the continued struggles of the to a Democratic loss in the 1946 Congressional
American people following World War II. Though election (28).
the war and its consequent industry boom got
America out of its 1930s Great Depression, vast With an noncooperative Congress, Truman
numbers of citizens continued to suffer greatly. struggled during his 8-year presidency to pass
Even with the support of federal aid, which had much of his domestic legislation. Events such
dwindled during the later parts of Roosevelts as Congresss refusal to approve the presidents
administration, the working class and skid war taxes and a looming strike in 1952 amongthe
rowers lived just barely above the poverty line. steel industry exemplified the contentious
Veterans pensions, one of the more generous aid experience of Trumans presidency (28). Despite
provisions, offered a modest $750 per year, and these obstacles, however, Truman did manage
Social Security granted individuals an estimated to propel the economy forward, as well as pass
$1,000 year benefit across the board (4). the Housing Act of 1949, which authorized the
construction of 810,000 public housing units
over the course of the next six years (5).
Modern Republican Dwight D. Eisenhowers It begs to be noted that the years during and
1953-1961 presidency represented a golden following World War II witnessed newfound
age of economic growth, low inflation, and intolerance toward the homeless. When the
relatively low unemployment rates. The 1950s city tore down a dilapidated structure in the
saw the middle class, who had been badly hit Bronx, for example, it made no provisions to
by the Depression, reemerge as stable and re-house the large community of homeless
prosperous. Moreover, it saw the implementation men who had taken shelter there. Moreover,
of new welfare initiatives such as government a lack of compassion toward skid rowers,
construction of low-income housing, the creation who were now far more settled than transient,
of the department of Health, Education, and persisted during the 1940s and 50s. The public
Welfare, the expansion of Social Security, continued to view the outcasted of the outcasts
and several programs to improve the nations as degenerate, lazy, and drunks, despite many
infrastructure. Indeed, the economy boomed interviews conducted during that time revealing
over the course of Eisenhowers terms. Despite how many of the subpopulation sought to retain
mild recessions in the beginning and end of the steady work. In fact, research suggests that
1950s, wage earners saw their personal incomes skid rowers worked much more than was the
increase by 45%, affording many the opportunity public perception (4).
to buy new homes and household items (29).
Throughout the period between 1940 and 1970,
It was perhaps the flashiness of this new the existence of skid rows diminished at a steady
consumer-driven culture, however, that allowed pace. Fewer and fewer businesses catering
for the countrys still-widespread impoverished to the communities, such as pawn shops and
to get overlooked. Americans at this time bars, stayed open, and by the 1960s and
considered the homeless a troublesome but 70s large-scale efforts to demolish skid row
ultimately insignificant problem (4) - a social areas went into effect. Emerging real-estate
nuisance that didnt require an aggressive opportunities cemented the fate of New Yorks
solution. And though the poverty rate did decline The Bowery, which, once the nations largest skid
as a whole during the 1950s, around 1 in every 5 row with 14,000 occupants in 1949, shrunk to
Americans were still living in poverty by the end house only 8,000 individuals by 1969. By 1980,
mid century. Almost half of the country was living the decades-long efforts of cities to wipe out
in the South, though urban migration accounted their skid rows had succeeded, and the areas
for a growth in poverty in Northern cities. Many no longer accounted for a significant portion of
migrants were African Americans who had left Americas urban landscape. Of course, removing
the South due to new farming technologies skid rows didnt do as much to reduce the
usurping their responsibilities now forced to homeless population as it did to displace it, and
work for low wages as a result of discrimination. by the 1980s the country was left to contend with
Moreover, children and the elderly,, who were large numbers of individuals roaming the streets
could not as directly participate in the new (4). The demolition of these skid row areas,
economy, became the most vulnerable targets however, exemplifies Americas oft-callous
of poverty (29). attitude towards the homeless, and subsequently
misguided attempts at addressing the issue.

The Social Welfare State.

LBJS WAR ON POVERTY As LBJ stated in his State of the Union address,
the War on Poverty aim[ed] to not only
When former senator and political prodigy John relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure
F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he faced a it and, above all, prevent it (20). Though the
country in the throws of yet another economic war was not successful in eliminating poverty,
recession. The president, however, who was key aspects of todays safety net - a series of
assassinated just three years into his first term, government-based initiatives which, as of 2012,
managed a liberal agenda that revitalized the accounted for keeping 41 million men, women
economy a had a significant impact that would and children out of poverty - began with the
last for years to come. Kennedy laid forth programs Johnson put forth. (Its worth noting
a plan to increase minimum wage, expand that in 2012, 50 million were also poor, and 16
unemployment and Social Security benefits, million lived below the poverty line) (21).
spend more on highway construction, and -
most surprisingly for a Democratic president Two of these aforementioned programs started
- lower personal and corporate income taxes. with the goal to help older and low-income
This last point actually only received approval Americans who could not otherwise obtain
from Congress after Kennedys assassination, health insurance. The first initiative, Medicare, is
but did yield results in reducing the national a federal health insurance program that provides
deficit. Kennedys presidency also resulted in coverage to low-income seniors and those with
steady and low inflation rates, as well as laid the disabilities. The other health coverage program
groundwork for the Medicare program that his is Medicaid, which was initially geared at
successor, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, providing mainly for families who received cash
would later put into effect (30). welfare, some low income seniors, and people
with disabilities. Medicaid also differs from
In 1964, after Johnson assumed the presidency Medicare in that it is supported by both federal
after Kennedy, he launched a robust effort and state funding (21). Both initiatives were part
to build upon FDRs New Deal legacy called of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 (20)
The Great Society. In addition to its landmark and are still widely depended upon today.
Civil Rights initiatives, which will be reviewed
later in this chapter, the Society focused on Other aspects of LBJs War on Poverty which
urban renewal, beautification, conservation, are still in use today include the Food Stamps
the development of depressed regions, control Act of 1964, which cemented a trial food stamps
and prevention of crime and delinquency, and program, the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA)
Kennedys legacy of the Medicare and Medicaid of 1964, which established Job Corps, the VISTA
programs (13). Moreover, as part of his vision for program, and the federal work study program.
a new, progressive society, Johnson declared The EOA also established the Office of Economic
an unconditional war on poverty. Unlike other Opportunity (OEO), a federal branch responsible
wars of the past, which aimed to solve societal for implementing the War on Poverty, but Nixon
issues by outlawing them, LBJ instituted a series more or less dismantled it during his presidency.
of programs that thoughtfully addressed the Also significant was LBJs Elementary and
realities of the modern-day working poor. Secondary Education Act, which established the
Title I program to subsidize school districts (20).

In 1956, the American Medical Association Despite these advances, initiatives still
(AMA) officially declared alcoholism as a largely overlooked the complex nature of
disease (5), signalling an understanding homelessness and alcoholism. Most evident
of the conditions varied and complex of this was the fact that emerging medical
nature that broke with misinformed treatment models remained inaccessible
intolerances of the past. While progress to the homeless. The poor, despite
in this area continued, however, the representing some of the most vulnerable
understood correlation between alcohol to alcohols consequences, could not afford
and homelessness was slower to develop. the programs high costs, short treatment
Federal policy from this period operated duration, or overall lack of attention to their
along the assumption that substance abuse, unique housing needs (5). The fact that
mental illness, and other relative problems legislation failed to account for the homeless
of homelessness were at the root of the as medical knowledge towards substance
condition (5). abuse advanced implies an imbedded
misunderstanding of the relationship
New initiatives emerged in the 1970s with between the two societal problems.
the intention of halting drug and alcohol
use. 1970 established the National Institute THE ADVENT OF THE SOCIAL MODEL
on Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), a product of
the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and One program that did benefit the homeless
Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and was the Social Model of the 1970s. The
Rehabilitation Act of the same year. The goal model generally avoided medical settings
of NIAAA was to conduct comprehensive and encouraged changes in behavior over
health, education, training, research, the use of medications. Its consequent
and planning programs for the both the cost-effectiveness, along with the attention
treatment and prevention of alcohol abuse the model paid to providing treatment
(26). Similarly, 1971 saw the passing of within the context of an individuals specific
the Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication environment and relationships, popularized it
Treatment Act, also known as the Hughes among homeless populations. One standout
Act, which mandated the medical approach negative, however: the costs of these social
for alcohol treatment and yielded new models were rarely reimbursed by third-party
forms of medical treatment, particularly the insurers (5).
use of hospital settings and medication for
detoxification. Significantly, the Hughes Act
also removed legal sanctions against public
drunkenness, which encouraged the care
of public inebriates to shift from the criminal
courts to the healthcare system (5).

The Social Welfare State.


After WWII, doctors assumed the practice of FUELS A CRISIS AT HOME
prescribing amphetamines - the ingredient
found in crystal meth - as a treatment for The next war America would participate in,
depression. As the legal distribution of the the Vietnam War, subjected US soldiers to the
drug increased, moreover, a black market first cases of guerilla warfare. In an effort to
emerged for those who sought its euphoric cope both with the wars grueling conditions
and high-energy effects. By the 1960s, and the widespread (700,000 cases) PTSD
police became concerned by a widespread they experienced afterwards, serviceman
practice of injective amphetamines, turned to opiates. In April 1971, close to two
prompting a 1962 crackdown on the San decades into the war, Congressman Robert
Francisco pharmacies that distributed it. Steele investigated reports of widespread
The precedent led to the disbandment of heroin use amongsoldiers. The investigation
all legal operations concerning the drug, revealed that a startling 10-15% used the
which inevitably pushed into motion the drug. And on American soil, more and
proliferation of underground production more research began linking heroin use to
facilities known as speed labs, (8). crime. The presumed correlation pushed it
to the forefront of the Nixon administrations
domestic agenda (8).

THE POSTWAR IMPACT the psychological scars of battle were all now
forced to confront yet another trauma: public
OF VIETNAM shame. Not only did popular culture depict
the largely involuntarily army as drug-crazed,
The end of LBJs presidency was eclipsed by the psychotic murderers, but barely anything was
highly controversial Vietnam War (1955-1975) done at either a private or federal level to aid in
and the presidency of Richard Nixon. Neither their assimilation back into society (25).
Nixon, nor his successor Jimmy Carter, were
huge proponents of FDR or LBJs welfare state, Soldiers came home to a society that denied
but they didnt completely oppose it either, and the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder
more or less kept it going with various initiatives (PTSD) and the harm caused by harsh chemicals
(19). One of the most notable was the Nixon like Agent Orange, offered little to no support,
administrations 1974 Section 8 certificate and mocked them publicly. In addition, large
program, which enabled the federal government numbers of soldiers came home with permanent
to subsidize qualified applicants to live in injuries and/or new and serious substance
existing, privately owned rental housing. Under addictions. For soldiers who left the service as
the program, participants paid 30% of their the result of a less-than-honorable discharge,
income to rent, and the HUD paid the remainder many of whom were poor, badly educated, and
of what it determined to be the units fair market nonwhite, the prospect of finding and keeping
value (5). jobs, maintaining family relationships, or even
staying out jail proved especially trying. As a
Part of their reluctance to halt the flow of consequence, roughly 750,000 Vietnam veterans
government aid were the newly dire conditions fell into homelessness (25).
that followed the Vietnam War, including the
downsizing of large factories and the loss of
industry jobs. A large part of the problem was
the impact the $167 billion war effort had on US
economy. In addition to enacting his expensive
federal aid initiative, The Great Society, President
Johnson also chose to finance a major war,
and to do both without significant tax increases.
Both factors left the United States facing a
double-digit inflation rate and substantial federal
debt (5).

What most specifically defined the post-Vietnam

America, however, was the countrys treatment
of recently returned soldiers. The public, many
of whom had objected to the war, resented the
government and its soldiers. Consequently, the
1.6 million soldiers who were drafted to fight in
the war, 300,000 who came home physically
wounded, and the countless more who bore A Vietnam soldier helps his injured comrade (F).

The Social Welfare State.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT Next into office was president Dwight
D. Eisenhower, whose most enduring
The Civil Rights movement in America legacies regarding Civil Rights involve
refers to a series of social movements progress made in reducing discrimination
that all operated with the goal of ending and segregation in education. During
racial segregation and discrimination. The the Truman administration, the Court and
movement is often associated with the 1960s president participated in a series of cases
and the Kennedy/Johnson administrations, that prevented attempts made by state
but its roots in fact trace back to the universities to segregate or ban African
post-WWII Truman era. Indeed, initiatives American students. Eisenhower built upon
put forth during the years leading up to the these precedents with the Little Rock school
1960s equal rights explosion undeniably set integration experiment and the landmark
the groundwork for such a movement to take case of Brown v. Board of Education (13).
place. Both events addressed the countrys
practice of desegregation in schools, with
President Trumans work on behalf of Civil the latter declaring it unconstitutional in
Rights demonstrated a historic change from 1954, and drawing international attention to
administrations of the past, and led to a the African Americans plight (31).
subsequent splintering of the Democratic
party. Trumans motives were grounded By the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement in
in both a sense of moral obligation and America was in full effect. The government
the rising political significance of black had made major legislative headway with the
voters, and pushed forward by a new surge Voting Rights Act of 1965, aimed at alleviating
in racial lynchings in 1946, for which the barriers that prevented African Americans
president called a federal investigation. from voting, and the Civil Rights Act of
Truman also became the first president to 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act,
formally address the National Association which prohibited discriminatory practices
for the Advancement of Colored People (28), in the sale, rental, or financing of housing.
and established his own seven-member Moreover, the movement also saw the rise
committee on Civil Rights (13). of positive, prominent black figures in the
mainstream, such as Martin Luther King Jr.
Perhaps Trumans most significant legacy and Rosa Parks (31).
to Civil Rights, however, was his work to
desegregate the military in 1947. Through The move America made during the Civil
the issuing of Executive Order 9981, the Rights era toward a post-racial society
preexisting Jim Crow policies of the armed reshaped the role of the African American -
forces were swiftly dismantled. Occurring in and other racial minorities - in all aspects of
the midst of an election year, inspired black American life. For the first time, discrimination
voters contributed to Trumans reelection was no longer acceptable in schools,
in 1948. Additionally, Truman also made the workplace, or any other context, and
use of the executive order to prohibit racial legislation finally supported minority rights
discrimination in federal employment (13). instead of fighting against them. This change
in perception was invaluable to a minority earned its name from the practice of
homeless who struggled with second-class using a red line to delineate areas on
citizenship on dual levels of race and a map where financial institutions would
circumstance. Moreover, the advancements not invest, operated with little regard to a
made in thwarting racial discrimination in neighborhoods qualifications or worthiness
areas of work and education helped enable (23).
the populations prosperity. Though America
is in no way a post-racial society today, The consequences of redlining during the
and the rise of militant black nationalism 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s continue to
during the late 1960s undoubtedly fueled affect racial minorities today - if a family
further racism among some, the attitude of was denied a mortgage in any of these
intolerance towards racial discrimination early and mid-century years, current familial
- supported on both social and federal generations may lack the family wealth or
levels - has had an enduring impact on race down payment to buy a home. Moreover,
the actual practice of passing over areas
for investment continues to appear in more
opaque forms to this day. For example, a
Despite all of the undeniable progress 2015 case between the HUD and Wisconsins
in the country, a deeply discriminatory largest bank found that the bank was
measure persisted between the 1930s up disproportionately denying loans to qualified
until 1968. Redlining was introduced as applicants in minority neighborhoods (24).
part of the Federal Housing Administration
(FHA) in 1934, and led to the explicit refusal
of loans to prospective Africans American
homebuyers and renters. As contemporary
writer/journalist Ta-Nehisis Coates put
it, Redlining destroyed the possibility of
investment wherever black people lived,

The way redlining worked was relatively

simple. The FHA assigned different grades
to neighborhoods, ranging from A (green)
to D (red), and qualified only the high-grade
neighborhoods for loan approvals. Grade
assignments were awarded on the basis of
ethnic composition solely, characterizing
grade D areas as detrimental influences
comprised of an undesirable population or
infiltration of it, (22). The application, which An example of a redlined map in Durham, North Carolina (G).

The Social Welfare State.


On either side of the aisle, efforts have been In the midst of WWII, however, a shift of attitudes
made to address policy for the mentally ill since began to question whether these hospitals were
America began developing an understanding of in fact causing more harm to their patients than
mental health. Prior to deinstitutionalization - a good, and the emphasis shifted to alternative
term referring to the discharge of dependent solutions (5). The countrys subsequent events,
populations into the community at large - policy, and behaviors toward the issue
individuals with a mental illness inhabited represent one of the most significant cultural
state-run hospitals. These public facilities were changes of the 20th century.
often defined by their poor conditions, plagued
by under-staffing and too few resources (5).

World War II 1954

In preparation for combat, psychiatrists Highly-anticipated medicine was introduced to the

assessed the mental health of those public. A prominent drug was Chlorpromazine
expected to join the war effort. The (trade name Thorzine) - originally a tranquilizer
results of this mass evaluation found and sedative, it started being used as an
17% of all evaluated to be mentally unfit anti-psychotic within 3 years (5).
to serve. This prompted a new belief
within the psychiatric community that
mental health was a much more serious
and pervasive issue than originally
believed (5).
1946 - The National Mental Health Act is
Following the war, an optimistic attitude passed, offering federal support to states to
started to form toward modern science establish new mental healthcare options within
and medicine, and the potential role they communities (5).
could serve in treating mental health.
This began the shift away from 1948 - The Vocational Rehabilitation Act is
institutionalization and toward alternative passed, designed to provide vocational services to
solutions (5). those living with a severe mental illness (5).

In addition to the changing societal attitudes, from institutions assimilate back into society
one persistent factor also greatly contributed to and relearn some of the practical and social
a move towards deinstitutionalization: money. skills theyd lost while under institutional care.
Mental institutions were somewhat distinct in A key element also included the development
that they were tax-funded programs supported of halfway houses, wherein those coming from
on a state level without any federal assistance. hospitals could receive access to psychiatric
Over time, they grew prohibitively expensive, and vocational specialists (5).
and a conversation started to turn toward the
concept of community care (5). Though well-intentioned, the efforts made
following the 1955 health examinations were
Community care as an alternative to riddled with flaws and improbabilities. One
institutionalization refers to the idea that the large issue was the failure of communication
government would implement programs and between the existing state institutions and the
services within communities so that they could communities designed to absorb the patients
successfully support residents with mental being released from them. As a result of this
illnesses. Two of the eras largest organizations disconnect, hospitals began releasing patients
for institution reform and policy, The National into communities that were not equipped to
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and The deal with them. Moreover, patient information,
American Psychiatric Association (APA), including diagnoses and specific care
supported the concept, believing that large instructions, was not consistently released from
state hospitals, while suitable for some clinical hospitals to their respective communities.

cases, were an inappropriate solution for treating As a consequence, it was difficult to place
the mentally ill. They viewed community care as patients in the most appropriate programs
the most essential component of a national health for them. A lack of adequate funding further
policy (5). impeded the success of community care
initiatives. Insurance companies rarely covered
One of the governments largest pushes the necessary services, making good, long-term
towards a community care approach came care inaccessible to most lower-income
in 1955 with the passing of the Mental Health individuals (5).
Study Act and the Joint Commission on Mental
Illness and Mental Health (JCMIMH), which
called for a major examination of the countrys
existing mental health services. The research
produced from this investigation indicated that
the area required federal intervention (5). As a
result, the government channeled funding into
the development of community mental health
services, including an extensive system of
resources that would help those being released

The Social Welfare State.

Later, history would see the passing of The did not face much regulation, and as a result
Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, an attempt often enabled instances of poor upkeep, neglect,
to acknowledge the issues of mental health and abuse among residents (5).
and low incomes by prohibiting group health
insurance plans from placing lower limits on A third alternative for deinstitutionalized housing
needed mental services than they would on was the most improvised. It was, in fact, the
issues of physical health or surgical care. While reassignment of released individuals back into
the act was received favorably for its recognition hospitals. However, due to the shift of focus
of the governments responsibility toward the away from these institutions, both legislatively
working and middle classes, it also included and professionally, they were now run with less
large loopholes of which insurance companies responsibility toward the patient. This typically
could take advantage. Chiefly, the fact that meant shorter residential stays and a higher
group health plans were not actually required to frequency of readmission rates. This pattern
issue mental health coverage, and the law didnt came to be known as the revolving door
apply to any company operating with less than syndrome, as patients were cycled through a
51 employees (5). traumatic process of being admitted, released,
and readmitted (1).
Due to the stalled progress on functional
community care initiatives, unconventional

solutions arose for housing newly-released
patients. The 1960s brought about a change in

Medicaid that allowed it to pay for nursing homes

Perhaps the most tangible embodiment of the
for anyone 21 years or older. As a result, the
deinstituionalization movement was the the
institutions became a viable and popular option highly-influencial book Asylums, penned by
for mentally ill patients of all age ranges. Nursing socialist writer Erving Goffman. The text indicted
homes were able to provide a safe and clean institutionalization, asserting that its intense
environment where residents could receive isolation practices, such as being cut off from
adequate and round-the-clock health care (5). larger society and subject to heavy regulation,
were detrimental to a patients overall well-being.
Goffman cited consequences of lowered
Another tactic, Board and Care facilities, were self-esteem, lack of capacity to make personal
created in a response to the lack of residential decisions or assert onself, and, what he believed
options for deinstitutionalized individuals. to be most problematic, the internalization and
These group-living environments catered more identification of ones mental illness. He argued
that hospitalization would continue and reinforce
toward the independent person living with a
the cycle of the illness by communicating to the
mental condition. While they were able to offer patient, and to the outside world, that s/he is
communal eating environments, as well as primarily if not exclusively defined by his/her
daily contact with facility personnel, they did condition (5).
not provide any extensive medical treatment.
Moreover, Board and Care housing provisions
In order to begin to tackling the problem of
1970 caring for displaced mentally ill Americans,
experts have identified two main contributors
The precendent-setting case of Wyatt v. that must be addressed. First, the public care
Stickney showcased how not only were system is overburdened. It lacks the resources or
hospital agents growing increasingly funding to support all of the cases it is designed
convinced that medications could more
to cover. Therefore, until private sector insurance
effectively treat mental illness than in-patient
hospital care, but also how courts were companies start to provide more coverage, these
responding to, and getting involved in, this public resources will continue to be stretched too
agenda. When a hospital in Tuscaloosa thin (5).
Alabama was put on trial for understaffing
and operational incompetency, the judge Secondly, and this matter pertains to the issue
ordered that it be forced to meet new and
specific guidelines. The case put a
of homelessness in general, there persists a
magnifying glass on hospital conditions, and grave lack of affordable housing. Not only are
reinforced the notion that they were an housing options for this population very limited,
inappropriate and inferior solution for mental but people also dont typically want low-income
illness (5). accommodations near their homes, for fear of a
reduction in property value or a spike in crime
rates. And as difficult as it is for a low income
individual to find housing, the stigmatization is
even greater for someone with a mental illness.

Researchers maintain that until this issue of
where to place the homeless mentally ill is
resolved - until communities begin to open their
One of the more successful models for care,
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), minds to the idea of letting mentally ill residents
is founded. A service-delivery model, it into their communities - it will remain difficult to
aimed to provide comprehensive and find a sustainable and worthwhile solution (5).
locally-based treatment to those with serious
and persistent mental illnesses. It operated
according to the philosophy that mental
health workers should meet with the
homeless mentally ill in their environment,
rather than expect the individual to seek out
help themselves. In addition, maintaining an
ongoing presence is a patients life, while
remaining non-threatening, was paramount.
Results of this practice have shown
reductions in hospitalizations, mental illness
and substance abuse (5).

The Social Welfare State.

moved in the system 62 times

of 6 times.
ill for 20 years
23 hospitalizations
lived in shelters and on the street a minimum
hepatitis acute infections

The following facts and statistics point to how the complex and specific needs of the mentally ill
are not being appropriately addressed today. Each of these factors contribute to a predisposition
towards homelessness and other struggles.

Study Findings
Frequent Transitions
On average, a client changed places of residence at least 14 times.
Many participant of the study cited a lack of adequate housing options, impeding the
ability to return to the community and seek rehabilitation.
In on case, a client waited for over a year to be released from the hospital after
being ready because of a lack of available 24-hour supervised housing.

The Role of Medical Illness

48% of clients had additional medical problems.
People with mental illness often experience medical problems as a result of poor health and
eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and/or their medications. Many struggle with obesity.
Medical illnesses often go undiagnosed and/or untreated. Clients are often unable to fully
communicate their symptoms or give a coherent account, resulting in further mistreatment.
Conditions are exacerbated due to a lack of a protective setting.
The most common diagnosis cited among clients were arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes.

Substance Abuse
Approximately 50% of all mentally ill individuals experience issues with substance abuse at
some point during their lives.
21% of study participants cited problems with substance abuse.
Consequences related to substance abuse among people with mental health diagnosis
include noncompliance with medications, frequent hospitalizations, and homelessness.
Families of clients cited the lack of adequate case management, and social isolation as
triggers for substance abuse among this population. Other causes include a need to self-
medicate because their symptoms are not under control (2), and the fact that there are not
enough programs that address the specific relationship between homelessness, mental
illness, and drug use (1).
Those seeking treatment often have to seek out three separate public care sys-
tems in order to address the varying aspects of their condition. This kind of
obstacle-filled model discourages attempts for help (1).

Noncompliance to Medication
74% of neuro-responsive outpatients became noncompliant (stopped taking) their medication
within 2 years, resulting in 40% of all schizophrenia relapse.
43% of clients showed noncompliance with their medications, which led to relapses and an
overall lower level of functioning.
Reasons why clients avoid taking their medications vary, but can include a patients lack of
insight or understanding in regards to their medication, adverse side effects, a lack of a
reliable structure and support system, premature release from a hospital or highly-
structured system, and inadequate care and follow-up care.

Suicide and High Death Rates

Early death rates are significantly higher among those with severe mental illness than
amongst the general population, with life expectancies predicted at 8.8 years less than the
average person.
Contributors to this high death rate include poor health habits, drug and alcohol use, the
presence of undiagnosed/untreated medical conditions, an increased susceptibility to
accidents, and, most prominently, suicide.
Recent studies suggest that 1/3 of schizophrenia patients will attempt suicide at some point.
42% of study participants attempted suicide, and most had made two or more attempts.

The Social Welfare State.



2002. Print.


The End of the 20th Century.

The end of the 20th century represented THE REAGAN ERA

somewhat of a fall from grace for America. After a
mid-century golden age of economic and social When Republican Ronald Reagan ran for office
successes, an expensive Vietnam War and other in 1980, he did so in the context of a struggling
factors left the country facing yet another wave of economy and a nation accustomed to social
economic turmoil (5). In addition, the election of welfare policy. Once president, however,
conservative Ronald Reagan led to the definitive Reagan vowed to disrupt both. In his 1981
end of the nations welfare state policies. A inaugural address, the president promised
new recession, misguided drug policy leading the public a new era of reduced government
to mushrooming incarceration rates, and a interference, firmly asserting that In this present
low-income housing crisis would come to define crisis, government is not the solution to our
the nations last years before the millennium. problem; government is the problem (19). Such
a statement would launch an administration that
THE STATE OF THE HOMELESS would push forward the deregulation of industry,
the lowering of taxes, increased defense
The new, post-1975 homeless were much spending, and a reduction in federal support for
younger than their predecessors, with a majority social welfare programs.
under 45 and almost half under 35. This shifted
Reagans administration witnessed a significant
demographic resulted largely from the 1972
structural shift that pushed the country further
Social Security reforms, which raised old-age
toward a post-industrialized global economy,
pensions by 20%. Most significantly, the reforms which had a devastating impact on the nations
forced benefits to adjust for the changing costs poor (34). As industry made the leap towards
of living, preventing seniors from the pitfalls its high tech future, the need for unskilled or
of receiving stagnant benefits in times of high semi-skilled workers diminished. Factory workers
inflation (4). used to well-paying jobs now competed for
part-time and low-paying positions, and under-
Unfortunately, no such safety net existed for the educated young people entering the workforce
nations younger set, and an economic recession found they only qualified for jobs in service
in the 1980s hit the new homeless especially industries (4).
hard. By 1982, the recession had left 10% of REAGANOMICS
the workforce unemployed (34). By 1983, the
HUD estimated that 250,000 people were living Reagans fiscal attitudes were rooted in
on the street or in shelters on a given night conservative, neoclassical principles that
across the nation - a number which doubled in guided his economic policy. As president, he
the 1990 report. Moreover, large numbers of implemented a plan for the economy that aimed
the homeless were now resorting to improvised to benefit the large majority by offering relief,
sleeping options, such as temporary shelters, predominantly, to those at the top. Reagans
economics - or Reaganomics, as the media
parks, or alleyways. These new provisions were
called them - offered tax relief to the wealthy
a consequence of destroyed skid row lodging
along the presumption that such breaks would
houses and a decline in affordable housing (4).
enable them to spend and invest more. The
increased spending would hence stimulate the
economy, and inevitably produce more jobs (35). A final legacy of Reagans economic plan was
The financial strategy is also known as Trickle that its effects, or rather consequences, lasted
Down Economics, and many conservatives - into years well beyond the Reagan presidency.
particularly Reagan diehards - still advocate for it Unable to compensate for its vast defense
today. expenditures and reduced tax revenue, his
administration pushed the US economy into
While Reaganomics succeeded in providing a multi-trillion-dollar budget deficit. So while
a healthy degree of national growth and a economists continue to debate the validity and
mid-decade domestic economy surge (due to effectiveness of Reaganomics's Trickle Down
economic calculations far too complicated to philosophy, there is little question that the debt
extrapolate here), it also molded America into a accrued during the Reagan administration,
country where getting ahead, or even getting on notwithstanding the temporary remedies of
ones feet, became increasingly more difficult. the Clinton administration, has been felt for
As a start, Reagan implemented a regressive generations with no end in sight (35).
tax scheme which took the largest percentages
of incomes from low-income families (34). In
addition, Reagan attempted to balance the
deficit caused by the concurrent events of
top-tier tax breaks and heightened defense
spending through the de-funding of government
programs (35).

Fortunately in the case of the latter, Congress

fought against the president in order to protect
the welfare state (35). Unfortunately for those
dependent upon it, however, little more was
done than keep these social service programs
alive. As demand increased dramatically
amongst the 9-10 million surplus of newly poor
Americans (34), a conservative backlash against
welfare led to a decline in aid value. Though
Social Security remained mostly unaffected,
aid recipients saw their lifelines, notably Aid
for Dependent Children, Unemployment, and
food stamp benefits, continue to diminish. In
1986, the government dispensed, on average,
$168 per month in federal aid to the homeless
Chicago resident. The amount proved only
slightly higher than what that same individual
would have earned in 1950. Furthermore, while
benefits shrunk further, they also became harder
to access, as eligibility requirements became
more and more restrictive (4).

The End of the 20th Century.


THE ENDURING HOLD OF HARD DRUGS Richard Nixons War on Drugs in 1971 took
an unforgiving stance on drug use, hoping to
The 1980s and 90s were a significant time
rid the country of its negative effects through
in Americas drug culture, representing
heavy-handed criminalization efforts imposed
new peaks in meth, heroin, and cocaine
on those involved with drug culture. Though
use. Heroin use in particular had already
the launch of the war did greatly increase the
increased considerably between the mid-
size and presence of the federal drug control
1960s and early 70s, especially in New York
agencies, as well as establish mandatory
City (33). Improvements in the drugs purity
sentencing for drug-related crimes and
toward the end of the century, however, saw
no-knock warrants, the tide soon shifted. In
a newfound surge of the drugs growth (8).
1977, President Jimmy Carter was elected
on a marijuana-decriminalization platform,
Amphetamines hit their stride in the 1990s,
and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to
due in part to Mexico-based trafficking
decriminalize possession of under an ounce
groups entering the market and dominating
of the substance by later that year (32).
the trade. Mom and pop laboratories
grew out of the increasing demand for
Ronald Reagans presidency, however,
crystal meth,(8) involving highly hazardous
would ensure a newly robust War on Drugs.
environments that cooked the drug
When the media began highlighting crack
into its ingestible form. By the end of the
use in the 1980s, the public developed a
century, meth had established a firm client
concern, and fixation, for illicit drug use
base of two distinctive groups: high school
(32). As a response, Reagan established his
and college-aged students, and white,
position to combat the newly heightened drug
blue-collar, typically unemployed individuals
use through the criminalization of those who
in their 20s and 30s. Both populations hailed
used, sold, or trafficked drugs. Moreover,
largely from the Midwest (8).
Reagans wife Nancy launched her own
highly publicized anti-drug campaign, out of
The only drug actually born out of the 1980s,
which came the popular slogan, Just Say
however, was crack cocaine. A diversified
No, (32).
and innovative distribution network allowed
for new, less-pure drug derivatives (5), and
The initiatives that sprawled from the War
crack, a derivative of cocaine, started
on Drugs were defined by their harsh,
appearing in the nations major cities by
zero-tolerance tactics. By the late 1980s,
1985. The usage of cocaine in its powder
as public concern for drugs morphed into
form increased around this time as well,
hysteria, Congress and state legislatures
earning a glamorous reputation and
passed a series of severe penalties for
peaking in 1982 with 10.4 million users (8).
drug-related offenses. The mandates led to
But it was crack, cocaines cheap doctored
a rapidly increasing prison population. This
counterpart, that attracted the nations low
drug war continued until the 1990s, when it
income users. Easy to concoct, the drug sold
gained unlikely support from President Bill
for little, and could produce an immediate
Clinton. Though Clinton ran his initial bid
and euphoric high (5).
for presidency on a platform advocating in their post-jail recovery process, such as
treatment over incarceration, his work in food stamps, and Veterans and Temporary
office largely mirrored his no-tolerance Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
predecessors (32). Moreover, a study in benefits. Those convicted of drug-related
1994 revealed that the harsher penalties crimes, for example, are barred from both
for drug-related offenses were primarily food stamps and TANF benefits for life (5).
imposed on black citizens (84.5% convicted
for crack possession), resulting in black men THE SYRINGE PRESCRIPTION
and women serving longer prison sentences PROGRAM
than any other minorities (8).
One aspect of the War on Drugs was the use
INCARCERATION AS A PREDICTIVE OF and availability of syringes across the US. A
HOMELESSNESS (AND VICE VERSA) case in Rhode Island highlighted the negative
consequences of outlawing syringes - used
As the rates of criminalization and for injecting drugs - including higher syringe
imprisonment increased, so did those of reuse rates and higher instances of AIDS
jail and prison reentry. In 1994, the Bureau related to injection. In the 1990s, the state
of Justice Statistics conducted the largest adopted one of the nations most stringent
ever study on recidivism, and found that anti-syringe stances, felonizing its possession
of the 38,000 individuals examined, 67.5% for a consequence of up to five years in
returned to jail or prison within three years prison. In a testament to measures adverse
of their initial release. Statistics show that effects, however, the state also harbored
released prisoners often return to a small an alarmingly high syringe reuse rate -
number of disadvantaged communities, each syringe averaged 24 separate uses.
where their likelihood of engaging in criminal Additionally, Rhode Island accounted for
activity increases (5). one of the countrys highest proportions of
injection-related AIDS, standing as one in
Further research suggests a strong only four US states in which 50% of all AIDS
correlation between habitual prison reentry cases were associated with injection drug
and homelessness, with one study finding use (33).
that around one-tenth of the populations
entering prisons had previously experienced In 1995, the American Foundation for AIDS
homelessness. Individuals with no family Research (AmFAR) funded efforts to enact
to take them in and no housing alternatives a pilot needle exchange program in Rhode
tend to end up vulnerable to drug use, and Island. 15% of the states drug users,
struggle to find jobs with tainted records. amounting to 10,000 individuals, participated
Finding a job or housing is made even in the program, in which they were afforded
more difficult when factoring in the high access to clean and safe syringes at little or
rates of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and no cost. By 1996, the Rhode Island Medical
mental illness found amongst incarcerated Society recognized the programs success in
populations. Moreover, depending on the curtailing reuse rates, and voted unanimously
severity of their crimes, some ex-convicts to decriminalize syringe possession (33).
are ineligible for benefits that could aid them

The End of the 20th Century.

Unfortunately, the War on Drugs was

reluctant to recognize the benefits of such
unconventional measures, and the success
of the Rhode Island needle exchange can
be attributed in large part to its post- Reagan
lifespan. Throughout the 1980s, the War
and its drug policies consistently thwarted
efforts to promote syringe access programs.
Consequently, shared needles continued to
contribute to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS
throughout the decade (33).

The multi-administration War on Drugs

serves as an example of the unforeseen
and negative effects the illegalization of a
societal problem can propel. By banning
the use of drugs and drug paraphernalia,
the government contributed to the rise of a
more dangerous subculture - one saturated
with increased violence and the spread of
disease. The governments unrestrained use
of drug-related prison sentencing, moreover,
consigned thousands of Americans,
many already struggling with poverty and
addiction, to the post-jail obstacles of denied
benefits and limited resources.

This history reveals the tendency of

zero-tolerance programs to spur satellite
issues, many of which are often as serious
as the original problem. In addition, little
research suggests that these types of
programs yield effective results in reducing
drug use. Perhaps a better strategy,
therefore, is to invest our time, energy, and
resources investigating the root causes of Nancy Reagans anti-drug Just Say No
substance misuse - rather than punishing campaign permeated 1980s popular culture (H).
those most vulnerable to falling prey to it.

A LOW-INCOME HOUSING CRISIS expensive units. One of the most harmful of these
regulations directly prohibited the construction of
Toward the end of the 20th century, people high density, multi-family units (5).
experienced homelessness largely as a result
of two concurrent events: an increase in poverty THE GENTRIFICATION BOOM
and a decline in affordable rental housing.
Between 1985 and 1992, market analysts Part of the resistance to maintaining low-income
observed a 40% decrease in the amount of properties was the changing landscape of many
affordable rental units available throughout 41 cities and neighborhoods. The gentrification
metropolitan areas. Reasons for such a drastic of areas previously occupied by low-income
decline involved a powerful private sector, earners displaced countless Americans,
harmful government policy, and failed attempts throwing them into a housing market neither
at fixing the problem (5). equipped to or interested in relocating them.
As one author on the subject succinctly
In the past, low-income housing has come explains it, gentrification is a process of class
available through a process of filtering down, transformation: it is the remaking of working-class
in which older units that had depreciated in space to serve the needs of the middle-and
value became affordable to low-income earners. upper-class people, (36).
Subsequently, higher income earners moved
into the more costly new construction projects. One of the clearest instances of gentrification
Over time, however, these older units became in America occurred within New York City,
of increasingly poor quality (5), and neither the particularly in Manhattan. Many of the citys
government nor the private sector invested in neighborhoods, including the Lower East
their upkeep. As a consequence, the units were Side, Chelsea/Clinton, Central Harlem, and
abandoned, an act which confronted low-income Morningside Heights, experienced moderate
earners with the prospects of either continuing to amounts of gentrification in the 1970s and 80s
live in the crumbling units, or hitting the streets that exploded toward the end of the end of the
(5). century. Low mortgage rates and high demand
prompted reinvestment in formerly impoverished
As the passage of time saw the deterioration of neighborhoods, resulting in skyrocketing rents,
existing low-income structures, the government condominium conversions, and widespread
also began enacting policies that thwarted the new construction. Landlords pressured current
construction of new options. The Tax Reform tenants to vacate in pursuit of higher-paying
Act of 1986 eliminated tax advantages for renters, and between 1989 and 2002 176,900
building the kind of high density, multi-family New York occupants were displaced (36).
properties that low-income earners lived in.
Incentives to build were further discouraged Gentrification evolved as a consequence of
by frequent public opposition, who worried that a profit-minded private sector being allowed
low-income housing projects would alter the to operate with little government oversight. As
social composition of their neighborhoods (Not wealthy developers continued to discover
in My Backyard, or NIMBY). In addition, new and build up neighborhoods, the areas existing
local land-use regulations limited production in tenants experienced little protection in the way
general, leading to a limited supply of more

The End of the 20th Century.

of rent regulation or other provisions. That year also saw the 1974 Section 8 initiative
Consequently, thousands of low-income earners merge with another housing program to produce
spent the years of the gentrification boom the Housing Choice Voucher Program, under
constantly worried about becoming displaced. which housing subsidies were now tied to
individuals rather than rental units (5).
A component of The Housing Choice Voucher
Toward the end of the 1980s, the government
program that received large-scale government
took a step in addressing the increased
assistance was Homeownership Opportunities
homelessness rates through its enactment
for People Everywhere (HOPE VI). The program
of the 1987 McKinney Homeless Assistance
focused on the development of mixed-income
Act. Under the act, a series of programs were
housing communities, which referred to buildings
established that provided the public with
that included both market-rate and subsidized
emergency shelter, transitional housing, job
units, as well as some social services. HOPE
training, health care, education, and permanent
VI operated with the goal of creating more
housing provisions. Moreover, amendments to
livable and sustainable communities of varying
the act in 1988,90,92, and 94 expanded the
income levels, and the program contributed
scope of its programs to reach other in-need
approximately $4.5 billion to different public
populations, including the homeless mentally ill,
housing authorities over the course of a decade
war veterans, children, and those in rural areas.
1995 and 96 studies of the McKinney Homeless
Assistance Act found that its programs did
While researchers observe that some
succeed in securing permanent affordable
participants of HOPE VI did experience an
housing to many. The studies also revealed,
improvement in their living conditions, the
however, that program funding remained largely
program suffered from issues relating to its
insufficient (5).
core initiatives. When the program ordered the
demolition of old public housing to make way
By the 1990s, the government understood the
for a new mixed-income project, the number
need to take more serious action regarding the
of low-income units the new building offered
countrys affordable housing crisis. In 1990,
was often far lower than what was torn down.
Congress passed the Cranston-Gonzalez
In some of the most serious cases, inhabitants
National Affordable Housing Act, followed
of destroyed public housing as part of HOPE
in 1992 by the Housing and Community
VI were simply evicted, rather than resettled,
Development Act. Both initiatives provided
or moved to another comparably substandard
grants to states and local governments to
public housing project. The lack of resettlement
subsidize low-income housing construction.
opportunities was due in large part to the slow
In 1993, Congress directly assisted the effort
nature of new HOPE VI building construction.
by allocating $300 million in public housing
Such cases suggest that the HOPE VI program
revitalization funds. By the end of the decade,
was often more successful in demolishing
the government passed the Quality Housing
existing low-income provisions than it was
and Working Responsibility Act of 1998, which
in building new mixed-income communities.
assisted public housing residents in gaining
Moreover, scholars came to associate HOPE
employment and becoming self-sufficient.
VIs effects with increases in gentrification,
citing the attractiveness of the areas surrounding circumstance of poverty and the occurrence of
its mixed-income communities to high-end domestic abuse, suggesting that the relationship
developers (5). between poverty, domestic violence, and
female homelessness are deeply interrelated.
WOMEN AND HOMELESSNESS A low-income womens efforts to escape an
abusive environment and create a new life
Not nearly enough research covers the history are often hindered by the individuals limited
of women and homelessness, with most education, gender and/or racial discrimination,
assessments instead choosing to focus on the declining public assistance, and shortage of
distinct experience of homeless men. One could available low-income housing, all of which leave
conclude that this derives from the fact that, her distinctly more vulnerable to homelessness
historically, the nations workforce and military than middle or upper-class women in similar
have been predominantly male. To overlook positions (5). Moreover, in cases in which
the gender-specific experiences of the female women bring their kids with them, it becomes
homeless individual, however, would be to even more difficult to make ends meet. Far from
discount factors that contribute to homelessness an anomaly, by 1999 single-mother families
for over half of the population. Women have comprised an astounding 48.5% of all families
always existed, and women have always fallen in poverty. Furthermore, research indicates that
into to homelessness either individually, or, more families headed by women are also the most
commonly, as part of a family. And because likely to experience poverty (5).
almost all of the nations families reside in some
form of sheltered public housing far away from The shelters designed to take in homeless
public view, the very existence of the female women and children, many of whom are
homeless population goes widely unnoticed and fleeing abuse, face the challenge of caring
therefore unknown (4). for a uniquely vulnerable population. The
overwhelming majority of women occupying
When federal cutbacks started taking effect in both homeless and domestic violence shelters
the 1980s, the rise in homeless women over the come from impoverished backgrounds, and
next two decades increased dramatically. A have experienced an episode of domestic abuse
study revealed that by 1996, females accounted within the three months predating their shelter
for 32% of the entire homeless population, a admission. Taking into account these sensitive
percentage which had risen rapidly from 20% factors, experts have identified the three most
in 1987. What is more, an additional 1993 study vital resources any shelter catering to this
surveying 26 different cities found that 43% of population should provide: housing assistance,
all individuals seeking food and shelter were economic support, and a well-trained staff
women and children (4). capable of working with domestic violence
victims. Not all shelters, however, meet these
The reason for such high rates of female requirements. Domestic violence shelters can
homelessness toward the end of the century overlook logistical aspects of recovery, such as
has to do with the intersecting factors of helping women find housing, while homeless
difficult economic conditions and the conflicts shelters, in contrast, can disregard abuses role
that women uniquely face. The vast amount of in a residents homelessness completely (5).
female homeless experiences involve both the

The End of the 20th Century.

PUBLIC RESPONSE participating in what, to many, felt like a tireless

campaign on behalf of the homeless, citizens
As the century came to a close, the country were angered to find their streets still populated
assumed varying stances on its pervasive and their pockets still shaken down (4). The
homelessness problem. At the time, the poor attitude led to harsh public blame and criticism,
represented 14.5% of the American population, and fostered a societal belief that any individual
as inflating prices continued to outpace minimum who remained homeless amidst so many
wage and welfare benefits. Moreover, society charitable efforts must be responsible for and
in the 1990s faced its largest gap in personal deserving of their condition.
income since 1947, and under educated
laborers found themselves disadvantaged in the It was this shift in mindset that enabled a
workforce (34). The conditions left huge numbers resurgence of punitive tactics in the 1990s. As
of individuals begging on the streets, struggling the public cemented its view of the homeless as
with substance abuse, and sporadically primarily deviants and criminals - despite very
incarcerated. The general population responded few ever committing more than a petty crime -
with waves of both proactive empathy and they also started to tolerate, and even advocate
proactive anger. for, the populations retribution. Mayor Giulianis
New York saw the passing of new quality of
The 1990s saw new highs in social activism, life ordinances, as part of which city police
led by local churches, associations, and the could arrest the homeless for disruptions in
Salvation Army. Never in the nations history public life. These arrests, undoubtedly subject
had so many individuals donated their time and to the temperament of the officer at hand, could
money to help the homeless. In 1996, a report result from an individual sleeping or sitting on a
from the Urban Institute observed the operation sidewalk, in a park, or on a bench. In the West,
of 12,500 food distribution centers, 5,700 moreover, Sacramentos city council decided to
shelters, 4,400 transitional housing programs, sue a private agency for giving on food to the
and 3,300 outreach centers across the the homeless without a permit (4).
United States. These private sector initiatives
also emerged as a result of insufficiences at
the federal level. In office between 1989 and
1993, The one-term presidency of George H.W.
Bush did little to increase government aid for
the homeless. When his successor, Bill Clinton,
took office in 94, moreover, the new presidents
Congressional requests for more funding were
denied (4).

As the public became aware of these increased

relief efforts, they also observed a stagnancy
in homelessness rates. Frustrated that the
epidemic persisted despite widespread
generosity, compassion towards the homeless
turned into apathy and contempt. After

THE NEW MINORITY MAJORITY events all proven to correlate with
environmental characterics such as poverty
Before the 1970s, white Americans
and inequality (37).
comprised the majority of the countrys
homeless population - after all, white male
Inner cities themselves, moreover, can be
tramps had provided the face of the
identified by their substantial lack of the
Industrial Revoluiton. The period following
products and services associated with the
1975, however, saw a surge in homelessness
good life - including health resources,
among minority populations, particularly
access to good education, and meaningful
African Americans and Hispanics (4). The
employment opportunities. Other more micro
reasons rates of minority homelessness
aspects of the good life involve clean air and
began to climb were firmly rooted in the same
water access, reduced exposure to lead
factors that caused white homelessness,
paint, low levels of stress and obesity, and
but exacerbated by enduring race-specific
good diet - factors that have long-contributed
to the large disparities in health and
wellness between low- and high-income
The most likely to be working in declining
earning communities. Furthermore, patterns
or stagnating industries, African Americans
of disadvantage - along with patterns of
struggled during the post-industrial era to
privilege - emerge early on and persist
keep their jobs or maintain steady wages.
throughout ones lifespan, eventually
Moreover, black workers continued to face
reappearing and evolving in subsequent
racial discrimination in their searches for new
generations (36). Consequently, for the many
jobs, as well as all other aspects of public
minorities and minority offspring who grew up
life outside of their communities. A rise in the
in inner cities, their chances of succeeding in
number of black single-parent households
an economy saturated with good life area
undercut family income, and for the first time,
residents were undoubtedly skewed.
a significant number of African American
women were living on the streets (4).
Also negatively affecting the inner cities were
THE TRAP OF THE INNER CITIES the massive urban renewal projects -
largely the result of anti-poverty initiatives
As the nation continued to build up its - that occurred during the 1980s and 90s.
metropolises in the post-WWII era, racial Rather than improving conditions in these
segregation and economic disparity came to areas, attempts at fixing low-income urban
define the countrys urban landscape. Cities neighborhoods more typically led to a
grew disproportionately non-white (37), and pattern of destroying existing communities
the notion of equating inner cities - or the and replacing them with artificial new
area within a city that resides most closely to developments with little economic
the citys center - with social and economic infrastructure (4). This practice serves as
problems became commonplace. Inner-city another example of the eras propensity
populations can be characterized by their for demolishing old low-income housing
high teenage pregnancy rates, high school structures without replacing them with
dropout rates, and delinquint behaviors - viable living alternatives.
The End of the 20th Century.

Feeding the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day in Front of the White House (1983)
Photo by Jim Hubbard (A)

Works Cited


4. Kusmer, Kenneth L. Down and Out, on the Road: The

Homeless in American History. New York: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.
5. McNamara, Robert M. Homelessness in America. Vol. 2.
Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.
6. Rossi, Peter H. Down and out in America: The
Origins of Homelessness. Chicago: U of Chicago,
1989. Print.
8. "A Social History of America's Most Popular Drugs."
Editorial. Frontline. PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
11. Howard, Ella. Homeless: Poverty and Place in Urban
America. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2013. Print.
Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.
13. "The Presidential Timeline." Presidential Timeline. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
32. "Drug Policy Alliance | Guiding Drug Law Reform &
Advocacy." Drug Policy Alliance | Guiding Drug Law
Reform & Advocacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
33. "History of the Drug War." N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
34. Weinberger, Daniel. "The Causes of Homelessness in
America." The Causes of Homelessness in America. Web.
35. "Reaganomics." Independence Hall
Association, n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Evaluation for Fundraising. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
37. Gregory D. Squires and Charis E. Kubrin. "Privileged
Places." Race, Opportunity and Uneven Development in
Urban America. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.


H. "How Nancy Reagan Shaped the 'War on Drugs'." WNYC.

N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Our Modern Era.

Current events and issues will always attract handicap). As a consequence, soldiers who
more attention than those of the past, and they return home tend to rely on their individual
will always remain the lens through which that support networks to aid them through the
society views all other aspects of modern life. experience. For veterans without this network
The hope in historicizing the complex nature of who also struggle to find employment, the
homelessness, however, is to provide one with a likelihood of homelessness increases
context in which they can better approach the substantially (38).
issue as it stands today. By now in this research,
one should be aware of the myriad social, Another reason soldiers have difficulty fitting
societal, economic, governmental, and racial back into daily life is the high volume of
issues that have formed the shape of Post-Traumatic Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic
homelessness in America. One should also brain injuries the population experiences - both
understand that the problem as it exists today is of which are proven high risk factors for
a result of every one of them. With that said, the homelessness (38). Among 21st-century
new events that transpired between the turn of veterans who participated in Operations Iraqi
the millennium and 2017 were vast in magnitude Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 11-20% dealt
and grave in consequence. with some degree of PTSD in a given year. This
figure compares to that of the Gulf War (Desert
A NEW GENERATION OF VETERANS Storm) in the early 1990s, from which 12% of
soldiers developed post-traumatic stress (39).
On September 11 2001, a terrorist attack in Moreover, of Vietnam War draftees, who account
Manhattan served as the impetus for two of the for 43% of all current homeless veterans (38),
countrys longest-standing wars - the initial war in 30% experience PTSD over the course of their
Afghanistan and the second war in Iraq. Under lifetime (39).
Republican president George W. Bush, a legacy
to his pre-Clinton-era president father, George Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be caused
H.W. Bush, new droves of soldiers travelled to by a variety of wartime factors, including where
the Middle East - often more than once - to wage the war is fought and how much combat a soldier
war on Americas presumed enemy. sees. Another significant PTSD trigger among
veterans is the experience of sexual trauma.
Veterans are more likely than civilians to Though both women and men have reported
experience homelessness in their lifetimes, and episodes while in the service, females remain the
the reasons have to do not only with postwar side proportionally larger victim population - a truth
effects, but also a soldiers social and economic illuminated by the largest percentage of female
background. A common issue among veterans is soldiers the military has ever had. A recent study
assimilating back into civilian society post-war, published by the US Department of Veterans
when it often proves difficult to relate to old Affairs National Center for PTSD revealed that of
relationships or apply ones skillset to a those who use VA healthcare, 23 out of every 100
post-military profession (especially if the women reported sexual assault while in the
individual has sustained an injury or permanent military. Moreover, 55% of women and 38% of
military men reported experiences of sexual program. Today, SSVF and HUD-VASH remain
harassment while completing their service (39). the primary community responses when
addressing veteran homelessness (38).
This year, the Department of Veterans Affairs
released information stating that nearly 50,000 As the cold reception of incoming Vietnam War
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were either troops exemplified in the 1970s, not every
homeless or participating in a federal housing veteran population gets adequately supported.
program in 2013, a figure that had tripled since In 2009, however, then-VA Secretary Eric
2011. These rapidly increasing numbers signal Shinseki worked with President Barack Obama to
the emergence of a new societal figure - the 21st put forth an agenda to end veteran
century war veteran - and represent the most homelessness by 2015 (38). Two years later,
visible casualty of the Middle Eastern wars. current homeless veteran rates reveal the
Though single, male Vietnam soldiers between initiative failed to meet its goal, but its passing
51 and 61 years old still account for nearly half of did symbolize an era of political veteran support.
the total homeless veteran population, this new, Furthermore, in 2014 First Lady Michelle Obama
younger, and increasingly female (38) announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran
generation of Iraq/Afghanistan returnees are Homelessness, in which she compelled
quickly shaping the face of postwar hundreds of mayors, governors, and county and
down-and-outs. city officials to end veteran homelessness in their
communities by the end of 2015. In the years
A FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY first month, New Orleans met the challenge,
becoming the first to announce that it had ended
Federal programs in place to offer aid and veteran homelessness in its city (38).
services to veterans include the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs (VA), which requires
discharge status from participants, and the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), which does not. Moreover, HUD paired
its services with the Section 8 Housing Choice
Vouchers (HUD-VASH) to offer a support
package of housing vouchers, case
management, and other VA support services. In
2012, the VA introduced the Supportive Services
for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which
aimed to rapidly re-house veterans and veterans
families while offering services and other
assistance. The program saw encouraging
results in its first two years of operation, with only
9.4% of its participating veterans returning to
homelessness one year after exiting the A young Iraq war veterans begs in San Francisco (I).

Our Modern Era.


In 2005, one of the five deadliest hurricanes in Due in large part to heavy media coverage,
US history hit the countrys southern region, Hurricane Katrina received large-scale national
propelling a series of levee breaches and attention. In the aftermath, approximately 58,00
causing extensive flooding in New Orleans, the National Guard member were assigned to cover
greater Louisiana area, and the Mississippi and the region, comprised of servicemen from all 50
Alabama coastlines. Katrina also caused states (42). The Bush administration also
damage to several other states. The death toll budgeted $105 billion towards reconstruction
that emerged from the National Hurricane Center efforts (41), though the governments delayed
reported 1,836 storm-related fatalities, 1,577 of and disorganized responses have been widely
which came out of Louisiana. On September 3 criticized. Arguably more successful were the
2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael efforts of non-governmental organizations, such
Chertoff described the hurricanes aftermath as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army,
probably the worst catastrophe in the nations and Habitat for Humanity, who collectively raised
history (40). $4.25 billion in public donations. The Red Cross
alone, which accounted for over half of all
What made the Katrinas aftermath so significant, individual donations (43) and involved a mostly
in addition to its high fatality rate and associated volunteer workforce of 244,000 individuals,
trauma, was the widespread displacement and provided victims and rescue workers with
damage to infrastructure that occurred. Over one 346,980 comfort kits filled with daily essentials,
million people were displaced as a consequence and 68 million snacks and meals. Victims of
of the storms destruction (40), and areas like Katrina were also able to utilize the 1,470 shelters
Houston, Texas and Mobile, Alabama faced the Red Cross had opened in response to
influxes of new residents by the double-digit hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita, though the
thousands. The migration of 10,000 displaced organization was prohibited from opening any
Katrina victims to the small town of Hammond, shelters directly in New Orleans (43).
Louisiana, effectively doubled the areas total
population size (41). Many individuals and Not all responses were as benevolent, however,
families spent the days, weeks, and months and some of the most concerning post-Katrina
following the disaster without permanent housing behavior involved the efforts of municipalities to
or access to consistent medical, health, or re-establish governance amidst the chaos. When
childcare services. A lot of those who lost their sizeable instances of looting, carjacking, theft,
homes to Katrina ended up in subsidized and other crime began to occur (and attract the
communities set up by The Federal Emergency gaze of mainstream media) - the government
Management Agency (FEMA), though studies on deployed 58,000 National Guard personnel to
these communities reveal that the average the region to maintain order. Some individuals
household moved locations 3.5 times during their resented the presence of the militia, and
stay (5). shootings broke out between law enforcement
and New Orleans residents (45).
The violence also gave way to new instances of member or friend. These events were sometimes
police brutality and misconduct. In a statement followed by prolonged periods of instability,
indicative of the regions growing intolerance limited access to resources, and/or separation
towards the deviant acts of its most desperate from family members. Significantly, parents and
members, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco guardians were not always able to meet the
reassured the public that these new troops emotional needs of those under their care - a
know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will result of suffering their own post-traumatic cases
(45). Blancos words were proven correct just of anxiety and depression. Children also
later that year, when five police officers pleaded experienced long-term disruptions in their
guilty to charges connected to the fatal shootings education as a result of family transience or
of two black, unarmed civilians, and the serious simply a lack of access (the hurricane severely
injury of several others. By 2011, moreover, an damaged 110 of New Orleans 126 public
additional six officers had appeared in court for schools). These environments made it especially
their own misconduct-based charges (44). difficult for post-Katrina youth, many of whom
suffered from PTSD, to heal, develop healthily,
ENDURING EFFECTS and be successful in their adult lives (5).

The economic toll Hurricane Katrina took on the

US economy and its workforce was substantial.
In addition to costing billions of dollars worth of
federal funds, the storm caused a six-month
disruption in oil production. Affecting the region
even more directly were the losses in foresty and
other affected industries, which supported
approximately 1 million jobs. As a consequence
of the damage to these industries, hundreds of
thousands of local residents were left
unemployed. Moreover, experts estimate that the
hurricanes total economic impact on the
Louisiana and Mississippi areas may eventually
exceed $150 billion (46). These results are
particularly devastating considering the low
socioeconomic positions of many of the regions
residents pre-Katrina (5).

Another of Katrinas lasting impacts has to do

with the effect the hurricane had on the children
who lived through it. Children experienced
unique traumas during the disaster, sometimes
witnessing the injury or death of a close family
Our Modern Era.

RACE RELATIONS neighborhood - a primarily African American,

low-income area that also once boasted the
KATRINAS RACIAL BIAS highest percentage of black home ownership
in the city - despite its comparatively good
73% of the total number of people condition (49) suggests a continued
displaced by Hurricane Katrina were bias towards the development of white
black, one-third of which were also poor. communities.
As is often the consequence of natural
disasters, New Orleans black, low-income The events of Katrina demonstrate the
communities suffered some of the worst of pervasive roles racial discrimination and
Katrinas casualties. Per the trend, these inequality still play within America; roles
neighborhoods were settled on low-lying which often lead to the cyclical conditions
parts of the cities, which were inevitably the of unemployment, substance abuse, crime,
most vulnerable to the storms extensive and homelessness among minorities.
flooding. Moreover, in the immediate Furthermore, these events also disturbingly
aftermath of Katrina, 175,000 black residents showcase how discrimination still operates at
left New Orleans in pursuit of temporary policy levels, albeit mostly indirectly, and can
shelter and more stable living conditions. Of present obstacles for already underserved
that population, fewer than half could return communities.
home within the year as a result of delayed
building in their communities. This was not as Significantly, the fatal police shootings of
common among white populations, however. two unarmed black men that post-Katrina
Of the total number of displaced whites, 70% New Orleans saw represents the countrys
were able to return home within that same enduring hostility towards minorities,
time frame (47). particularly African American men. The
event accounts for only one of countless
The discrepancy points to the role race has like it that have occurred throughout the
continually played in the Hurricane Katrina majority of the 21st century. There have
relief effort - a role many felt contributed been so many similar instances, in fact, that
to the delayed initial response time of a Black Lives Matter movement rose up to
the federal government (many accused advocate on behalf of those who had been
current President Bush of not caring about lost and those who remained vulnerable to
Katrinas victims, many of whom were acts of racially-charged police violence.
black, whom the media often portrayed as
aggressive looters). The case of rebuilding What these cases serve to illuminate,
the Souths storm-ravaged areas, moreover, moreover, is how, despite substantial
demonstrates one of the clearest and most racial progress, minorities continue to face
visible examples of relief inequality. Since persecution at the federal, local, and social
Katrina, community rebuilding has largely levels. And everytime ill-treatment occurs,
catered to high-income areas, which have not only is their progress as a race derailed
grown increasingly white post-hurricane (putting them further and further behind in
(47). Furthermore, the early federal write-off the social and economic order), but it also
of New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward gives rise to new, negative responses within
the victimized community - such as
resentment towards police and subsequent
acts of violence. When these responses
reverberate back into society, moreover,
the races negative perception is solidified
and strengthened. Its a cause-and-effect
equation rooted deeply in racial history,
and accounts for only some of the systemic
obstacles that disparage non-white America.

Desperate Katrina victims seek shelter - and help - on top of a roof in New Orleans (J).

Our Modern Era.

THE GREAT RECESSION could no longer afford their mortgage payments

once inflation kicked in and interest rates rose
Not since the 1929 Great Depression has a following their introductory periods. And when
period in US history had such a devastating citizens couldnt pay their lenders, lenders could
global impact as the Great Recession. The burst pay back the banks that they borrowed from,
of the eight-trillion-dollar housing bubble resulting in billions of bank dollars lost in
propelled America into a new wave of financial unrecouped mortgage loan investments.
crisis, characterized by record-breaking Consequently, there was an across-the-board
unemployment rates, falling income, and low shutdown in financial lending, making it very
investment. Moreover, in the decade since the difficult for any individual, company, or even
Recessions official end, the economy has been bank to borrow money moving forward (50).
exceptionally slower to recover, while the
long-term effects of the periods economic The events that followed this 2007-08 credit
lethargy still remains to be seen. crunch brought the United States into the era of
the Great Recession. The slow-down in
WHAT CAUSED THE BURST borrowing led to a slow down in the economy,
including declines in overall investment,
Beginning in the 1990s, a decade-long consumer spending, the stock market, and
expansion of the US housing market saw a housing prices. Moreover, the global nature of
marked increase in housing demand, resulting in the crisis led to a significant drop in world trade
a housing bubble within which housing prices (50). And while the Recession resulted in stock
rose faster than inflation and income (50). By the market losses and lowered net worths, it was the
mid-2000s, US mortgage lenders started nations wage-dependent workforce, the
approving large numbers of undesirable trickle-down casualty of the suffering economy,
candidates - those with below-average credit upon whom it had the most devastating impact.
histories or the lack of a down payment - for
subprime mortgages, many of which had
introductory periods of very low interest rates for
their first 1-2 years (49). Lenders afforded the When the housing market bubble burst in 2006,
widespread lending by bundling mortgage the nation sustained huge losses in wealth and
packages together and selling them to other investments. Consequently, all aspects of
finance companies, primarily banks, essentially business and industry suffered, resulting in the
borrowing themselves to support the mortgage sharpest decline in employment rates since the
loans they were selling to homebuyers (50). 1930s. Between 2008-09, the U.S. labor market
lost 8.4 million jobs, amounting to a 6.1%
In 2007, the US experienced a credit crunch, or unemployment rate. Moreover, when the
a sudden shortage in funds available for lending, Recession officially ended in June of 2009, it
as a result of a sharp rise in defaults on these meant little to the masses of unemployed
subprime mortgages. Individuals who had taken workers, because the end of the Recession only
out low-interest homebuying loans on credit signified that the economy had stopped
contracting. Trends of the previous two
recessions had indicated that Americas
recovery would be exceptionally slow, and
indeed, by the end of 2010, 16 months after the
Recessions official end, unemployment still
hovered at around 5.4%. For black workers,
moreover, whos unemployment rate is typically
twice that of out-of-work white workers
regardless of the economy, the Recession meant
remarkably high cases of unemployment (51).

The significant job shortage related to the

unequal ratio of job seekers and job openings.
In September 2010, research concluded that for
every single job opportunity, five workers
existed, implying that for the remaining four
workers there literally wasnt a job in the market
to employ them. Further research suggested that
in order to simply keep pace with population
growth, the labor market needed to produce an
additional 3.4 million jobs between December
2007, the start of the Recession, and September
2010, amounting to roughly 300,000 new jobs
each month. In reality, however, the labor market
still had 7.8 million fewer jobs than it did when the
Recession began (51).

The shortage of jobs and high unemployment

rates led to the subsequent fall in household
incomes. In 2009, at the height of the Recession,
the typical working-age household saw an
income reduction of $2,700 as compared to
2007, and of $5,000 when compared to 2000.
Again, these drops in income were experienced
most severely by racial minorities. Moreover,
because the majority of workers under 65
received their health insurance through
employers, widespread job loss also meant a
larger percentage of uninsured Americans (51).

Our Modern Era.

UNACCOMPANIED HOMELESS As is the case for all populations that fall into
YOUTH homelessness, myriad reasons exist for why and
how a young homeless person got there.
Moreover, like the interrelated factors of
While one can frequently interchange the subject
homelessness, poverty, substance abuse and
of women and homelessness with the subject of
familial conflict, the existence of homeless youth
familial homelessness, the same cannot be said
has always been, albeit in more moderate
for the topics of homeless families and
amounts. Therefore, before reviewing the
unaccompanied homeless youth. As defined by
modern causes that lead to the populations
the Runaway Homeless Youth Act, a homeless
21st-century displacement, lets first ground the
youth is someone not more than 21 years of
conversation in a brief history of homeless youth
age...for whom it is not possible to live in a safe
in the United States.
environment with a relative and who has no other
safe alternative living arrangement (52). While
the HUD goes further to distinguish the
population by age range, and includes
individuals up to 25 years old in its
categorizations, homeless youth are uniformly
recognized as young individuals whos
experiences of homelessness do not include a
family or legal guardian.

Modern-day youth might participate in

government housing systems, such as juvenile
justice or foster care (Systems Youth), or they
might live in a high-risk or nontraditional location,
such as under a bridge or in an abandoned
building (Street Youth) (52). As rough as it is,
many often actually prefer life on the streets to
those in public programs, largely because of the
streets capabilities in helping them conceal their
homeless condition from the rest of the world.
Similarly, as a group, unaccompanied homeless
youth consistently prove the most difficult
homeless population to report on, mainly
because they like to stay hidden and off of the
governments radar (53).


In the 1700s as the country By the 1800s, widespread

expanded westward, the nations homelessness occurred
adolescents ventured out on their among homeless immigrant
owns to explore the emerging youth, who were unable to
opportunities. It was the beginning of find consistent work in a job
an independent youth culture for the force that did not want them
United States (52). (52).

The Great Depression of

1930s saw another bout
homelessness among
youth. Because so many In the 1970s and 80s, the nation
of the overall population saw a consistent increase in the
fell into homelessness, number of youths being forced
however, issues specific from their homes, abandoned, and
to youth were largely living on the street with their
overlooked (52). parents consent. Many of these
families also dealt with issues of
substance abuse, violence, and
conflict (52).

In the 1960s, middle and

upper-class adolescents ran away
from their homes in an effort to reject
their parents values and pursue
By the 1990s, family dysfunction had
quests of self-expression and
grown into the largest cause of
exploration (52).
homelessness among youth (52).

Our Modern Era.

REASONS WHY THEY LEAVE homelessness. These sorts of findings have led
many of the organizations that work with these
The question of why a child, adolescent, or demographics to conclude that the best way to
young adult leaves home and becomes prevent youth homelessness is to stabilize
homeless in todays society has no concrete families (52).
answer. The variety of factors that contribute to,
* An important sidenote: while poor family relations and
or are a consequence of, an adults suffering can
family-related traumas can yield a young persons
filter down and result in the homelessness of any
homelessness, they can also greatly affect the experience
young person within close proximity. Moreover,
of it. Studies suggest that those who experience
research on this notoriously inconspicuous
family-related trauma also have difficulty forming
demographic is full of gaps and inconsistencies,
relationships with service providers. As a consequence,
belying the reality that there remains a vast
they are not able to access services that exist to help their
amount about them that is still not known. Still,
specific population (52).
after years of analyzing patterns of home
environment and individual circumstance,
researchers have managed to identify four broad ECONOMIC INSTABILITY
and interrelated categories that reveal some
Another key variable when it comes to young
explanations (52).
people leaving home is economic instability
within the household. One study that surveyed
FAMILY CONFLICT over 1,200 homeless youth found that around
40% of participants came from families that
The first cause for homelessness among youth is either lived in public housing or received some
family. Familial conflicts can involve the kind of public assistance. Moreover, in cases
behaviors of parents, adults living in the home, or where low minimum wages or consistent
youth, and can either involve the young person unemployment leads to the inability to pay bills,
who leaves the home or happen around them. some families resort to kicking their kids out of
The more common family conflicts involve the home (52).
parental substance abuse, a lack of
communication between a youth and another RESIDENTIAL INSTABILITY
member of the household, or the strained
relationship between youth and a Residential instability, a broad term, is used to
parent/guardian as a result of the adults define a period in a youths life when they have
disapproval towards the youths lifestyle, which no place to go and are temporarily taken in by
typically concerns the youths sexual orientation, others. This experience is also known as
sexual activity, or pregnancy. Moreover, family doubled-up housing, and in the case of youths,
conflict can also include episodes of severe can include foster care or another type of
violence, sexual, emotional, and/or physical residential or treatment facility. As of 2005, 70%
abuse, or neglect. In fact, there is a proven of all homeless youth had spent time in one of
correlation between the physical and/or sexual these doubled-up housing options, and over
abuse of a youth, and that youths experience of 22% of those who had gone through the foster
care system experienced one or more days of DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
homelessness after the age of 18. Homelessness
often follows residential instability because the DRUG USE AMONG HOMELESS YOUTH
individual has no reliable support network, or no
Research defining homeless youth as
one to turn to for help (52).
individuals between the ages of 12 and 24,
and who live on the street, finds that drug
EXTERNAL FACTORS use among homeless young people occurs
at a rate two to three times higher than it
The final category pertains to problems outside does among non-homeless users. These
of the home or family. This can include problems high accounts of using within street youth
in school, with peers, criminal activity, culture can be attributed to the both the
pregnancy/parenthood, sexual orientation, or cultures normalization of substance use
behavioral and/or mental health issues. In these (and other drug-related activity), as well as
cases, the familys influence on or reaction to a the need to alleviate, cope with, or numb
childs problem is not the direct cause for their the daily stresses of street life. Moreover,
experience of homelessness. Moreover, some some individuals depend on drugs as a
means for staying up at night in order to
studies have observed a specific causal
reduce their vulnerability to victimization.
relationship between students with Attention
Across the nation, marijuana remains the
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and
most popular drug choice among homeless
homelessness. When students struggle in school youth, followed by cocaine and closely after
to overcome the added learning hurdles that, amphetamines (52).
presented by the disorder, they become more
prone to drop out, hence increasing their In addition, the relationship between
likelihood of poverty, family conflict, and economic resources and homeless youth
becoming homeless (52). users often differs from those between
resources and other using homeless
demographics. While not much is known
regarding the degree to which financial
resources influence substance use for
homeless young adults, one study found
evidence that employment of more than
15 hours a week actually increased the
likehood of abuse among high school-aged
youth. Moreover, in the large cases where
youth are unable to find jobs due to their
age, lack of education/skills, unstable
housing, mental health problems, etc.,
cash-strapped users sometimes turn to
methods of prostitution, drug distribution,
theft, or asking family members or friends
for money (52).

Our Modern Era.

Works Cited

5. McNamara, Robert M. Homelessness in America. Vol. 2.

Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.
38. "Fact Sheet: Veteran Homelessness." National Alliance to
End Homelessness. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

39. "PTSD: National Center for PTSD." How Common Is PTSD?

PTSD: National Center for PTSD. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan.

40. Anthony E. Ladd, John Marszalek, and Duane A. Gill. The

Other Dispora: New Orleans Student Evacuation Impacts
and Responses Surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

41. Mema Ayi. "Katrina evacuees at home in Chicago.

Chicago Defender. August 30, 2006.

42. Phillips, Kyra. "Bush Discusses Displaced Students;

Department of Defense Briefs Press on Katrina Response
(CNN Live Transcript)." CNN.

Katrina: One Year Later. Charity Navigator.

44. "Police kill at least 5 in New Orleans". MSNBC. September

4, 2005.

45. Sarah Rosenblatt; James Rainey (September 27, 2005).

"Rita's Aftermath; Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News
Accuracy". Los Angeles Times.

46. Burton, Mark L.; Hicks, Michael J. "Hurricane Katrina:

Preliminary Estimates of Commercial and Public Sector
Damages." Marshall University: Center for Business and

47. "PTSD: National Center for PTSD." How Common Is PTSD?

PTSD: National Center for PTSD. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan.

48. Gabor, Andrea. "The Myth of the New Orleans School

Makeover." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22
Aug. 2015. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Works Cited

49. "Why the Lower Ninth Ward Looks Like the

Hurricane Just Hit." The Nation. N.p., 13 Aug. 2015. Web.
09 Jan. 2017.

50. Pettinger, Tejvan. "The Great Recession 2008-13."

Economics Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
51. "Russel Sage Foundation." The Social and Economic

Jan. 2017.
52. Moore, Jan. Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth

53. Cherkis, Jason. "Queer and Loathing: Does the Foster

Care System Bully Gay Kids?" Mother Jones (2010).
Nov.-Dec. 2010. Web.

54. Gomez, Rebecca, Sanna J. Thompson, and Amanda N.

Barczyk. "Factors Associated with Substance Use among

Publication of the Association for Medical Education and

Research in Substance Abuse. U.S. National Library of
Medicine. Jan. 2010. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.


I. "Homeless - Oni Studio San Diego Boudoir Photography

Oni Studio San Diego Boudoir Photography." Oni Studio
San Diego Boudoir Photography. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan.
J. Bouie, Jamelle. "If You Want to Understand Black Lives
Matter, You Have to Understand Katrina." Slate Magazine.
N.p., 23 Aug. 2015. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

Looking Ahead: Current Models of Success.


Housing First is currently one of the leading models in homeless relief efforts (56). It is a
harm-reduction model that prioritizes the speedy procurement of permanent rental housing,
followed by voluntary, as-needed support services, and a standard lease agreement (57).

Within the program, housing residents pay some rent, either 30% of their income or $50 a month
(whichever is highter) (55).

The program deviates from the traditional Housing Readiness model, which requires that
homeless individuals pass through a series of interventions and behavioral steps before they
qualify for housing services (56).

Housing First believes that securing stable housing is the first, most necessary step for at-risk
homeless populations, and will increase the effectiveness of support services later on (56).

The models philosophy is supported by statistics that prove its cost-effectiveness. In communities
where the model was adopted:
Costs related to homeless ER visits reduced by 34.3%
Incarceration costs reduced by 76%
Chronic homelessness reduced by 42% (56)

The most successful case of a Housing First model implementation occurred in Utah, who over the
course of a decade managed to reduce their chronically homeless population by 91%. In 2005,
the state had 2,000 chronically homeless individuals, and by 2015, they had less than 200 (55).


Peoples Emergency Housing (PEC), is a Philadelphia-based operation that exists for women and
their children who are experiencing homelessness. In addition to providing housing, PEC also
offers programs in areas such as case management, financial literary, and counseling (58).

PEC recognizes the experiences of incoming families and individuals may include childhood
abuse, domestic violence, intergenerational poverty, missed educational opportunities, lack of
access to employment services, and untreated medical and mental health issues (58).

The program offers three distinct sequential housing environments (58):

1. Emergency Housing
Where families start out and initially stabilize while addressing the underlying contributing
factors of their homelessness.
Facilities are staffed 24 hours a day, including holidays and weekends, and include 7
dormitory rooms with common bathrooms, a library, computer lab, and a kids play space.
Families receive provisions of food, clothing, school supplies, books, and healthcare.
2. Transitional Housing
The second phase of the program offers 37 single-family units, divided between those for
young adults between 18 and 24, and families headed by women 25 years or older.
Here they take on responsibilities such as food shopping and meal preparation, and
preparing their children for school each day.
3. Permanent Housing
This final step for families who have graduated from Transitional Housing places residents
in permanent housing options while allowing them to maintain their connection to PEC
service programs, including follow-up health care and job training.
PEC permanent housing comes from the development of local vacant properties.

Looking Ahead: Current Models of Success.


Insite, located in Vancouver, Canada, represents North Americas first legal supervised injection
site. It operates under a constitutional exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (59)

Insite operates on a harm-reduction model, meaning it aims to decrease the adverse health,
social, and economic consequences of using in poor conditions by providing a safe and clean
environment (59).

Many of Insites clients are older long-term drug users, and around half are homeless and/or have
significant mental health issues (59).

The center offers 13 injection booths where clients can inject pre-obtained drugs under the
supervision of nurses and health staff, as well as use the centers sterile injection equipment (59).

The centers health care professionals also offer general health services such as immunizations
and wound care to clients, many of whom are not well connected to health care services (59).

Additional staff includes addictions counselors, mental health workers, and peer staff who are able
to connect clients to community resources such as housing and addictions treatment. The center
hopes to foster trusting relationships between staff and clients that will encourage recovery (59).

In 2015, the center facilitated 5,359 clinical treatment interventions, 4,922 overdose interventions,
5,368 referrals to other social and health services, and 464 referrals to Onsite, Insites adjoining
detox treatment facility (59).

Insites model also aims to bring stability to the community by reducing the number of injections
taking place on Vancouvers streets (59).
Works Cited


55. McEvers, Kelly. "Utah Reduced Chronic Homelessness By

91 Percent; Here's How." NPR. NPR, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 26
June 2016.
56. "What Is Housing First?" Abode Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 09
Jan. 2017.
57. Lindberg, Eric. "A Possible Solution to Ending
Homelessness Begins with Housing First." University of
Southern California. N.p., 2 Oct. 2015. Web.

58. "PEC Cares." PEC Cares. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.

59. "Supervised Injection Sites." Vancouver Coastal Health.

N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.


Throughout history, America has witnessed the of which results today in more desperate
evolution of industry, the devolution of industry, and homelessness-causing behaviors like
economic highs and lows, a (losing) battle drug-use and criminal activity. Furthermore, the
against drugs, enduring racial tensions, and so experience of incarceration also exemplifies the
much more. But which, of these myriad events, cyclical trappings of most homelessness factors.
have most directly contributed to homelessness? As a consequence of being in jail, ex-convicts
Furthermore, which factors - be they racial, are increasingly susceptible to unemployment
substance-related, socioeconomic, etc. - can and typically ineligible for the majority of federal
assume the majority of the blame? aid. With few options to support themselves,
former prisoners often end up resorting to the
The answers lie not so much in specifics as same acts of criminal behavior that led to their
they do in Americas complex history. While initial incarceration.
key events have often contributed to large
waves of new homelessness, it is important to It is these same lessons in what sustains
understand that these events, and their ensuing homelessness, moreover, that can be valuable
poverty, never operate exclusively within the in finding solutions. Throughout history, the most
context of their current environment. Every successful poverty relief efforts have been those
significant national event, from its origin to its that acknowledge the specific composition of
aftermath, has been sculpted and defined by the groups that they serve, and address not
the American culture, tied closely to the nations only individual obstacles but also the enduring
interconnected economic, social, and political foundational issues that continually derail
landscapes. Moreover, poverty factors can be success. The Philadelphia-based Peoples
viewed not as stagnant elements, but rather as Emergency Housing operation, for example,
evolving entities, or the most current culmination approaches the care of the women it serves
of that factors entire historical experience. within their broader societal contexts of race,
Factors are also typically self-breeding - gender, economy, etc. In doing so, it is able
meaning that one will inevitably lead to another. to offer key services, such as benefits access,
conflict resolution, criminal record expungement,
A good example is incarceration among African and trauma counseling, that address specific
Americans. The currently high volumes of black systemic issues.
prisoners are not just the result of the widespread
crime that presently occurs within black Another aspect of successful intervention is
communities. High crime rates, rather, are the community care. Societies and governments
surface-level by-product of the deeper societal that have relied on the wherewithal of individuals
issues that have historically disenfranchised to rise out of their circumstances have typically
African Americans and left them to live in lower bred the highest rates of homelessness. It is
socioeconomic areas with fewer employment a more conservative, independent model that
opportunities. In this country, African Americans ignores the foundational issues that can make
have been conditioned to struggle, the plight it virtually impossible for some populations to
succeed - issues that become exacerbated
during times of national catastrophe or economic
turmoil. In addition to neglect, these models tend
to punish individuals for their homelessness,
crime, substance abuse, etc. rather than attempt
to uncover the conditions root causes. When
communities take the alternative approach
to accept responsibility for their struggling
members, however, both through provisions of
aid and the attempt to understand causation,
rates of homelessness tend to diminish.

Consequently, any design solution for the

homeless should be developed with both a
keen and sensitive insight into the populations it
will serve, as well as the principle of community
care. If homeless youth are involved, a solution
should be approached with an understanding
of not only youth-related substance use, but
also the underlying reasons why such high rates
of homeless youth turn to drugs. Similarly, any
design in service to homeless families should
be aided by a knowledge of both present-day
barriers and the origins of the populations
key causational factors: poverty and domestic
abuse. The practice will serve for better, more
functional, solution-oriented designs, as will
it contribute to increased perspective, and


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