At Home on the Street: People, Poverty, and a Hidden Culture of Homelessness

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In their examination of what it means to be truly at home on the street, Jason Wasserman and Jeffrey Clair argue that programs and policies addressing homeless people too often serve only to alienate them. They delve into the complex realities of homelessness to paint a gripping picture of individuals - not cases or pathologies - living on the street and of their strategies for daily survival. By exploring the private spaces that those who are homeless create for themselves, as well as their prevailing social mores, the authors explain how well-intentioned policies and programs often only widen the gap between the indigent and mainstream society. The result is an unvarnished look at the culture of long-term homelessness and a fresh approach to reaching this resurgent population.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"What they told us just did not fit with what we had heard from the experts," write authors Wasserman (sociology, Texas Tech Univ.) and Clair (sociology, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham) in their preface, and this candor and determination to understand the underpinnings of homelessness in this country inform this splendid book. "As a society, how we deal with those who are homeless typically wavers between subtle paternalism and heavy-handed authoritarianism," they report after experiencing the "complexities and apparent contradictions" of street life for themselves and closely observing what began as a distrusting population and ended with real friendships. The authors' near-disarming sincerity is offset by the reliability of their reports and familiarity with the existing literature, as well as the useful index and list of references. Candid throughout, they conclude "by offering, not solutions on how to end homelessness, but rather insights about how to begin to think about it in new ways." VERDICT This meditation on friendship as much as a cutting-edge report on homelessness is recommended for public policy players, psychologists, social workers, urban planners, sociologists, and anyone interested in the vicissitudes—and pleasures—of the research process.—Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588267016
  • Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 565,303
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Homelessness in the United States 1

2 Accessing a Hidden Population 27

3 Describing Those Who Are Homeless 49

4 Causes of Homelessness 69

5 Urban Space and Relations on the Street 97

6 The Complex Dispositions of People on the Street 121

7 Street Identities and Creative Resistance 139

8 Business, Politics, and the Moving Ghetto 153

9 Homeless Services: Healing the Sick 171

10 Religious Approaches: Saving Souls 199

11 Conclusion: Improving Research, Improving Policy 215

References 233

Index 243

About the Book 252

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