School Library JournalGr 6-9-This title addresses the questions of who should take responsibility for assisting homeless people and how to improve the situation in the U.S. A short history of the demographics of the homeless from the Depression years to the present examines the effects of public policy on them. Nichelason does a commendable job of presenting the complex and varied causes of homelessness and cites individual examples. Through text and photographs (reproduced in black and white and full color), she provides a stark look at the everyday realities these people face. Past and present welfare and assistance programs offered by government and nonprofit agencies are described, and suggested solutions are examined. The author also looks at public attitudes and measures taken by local governments in reaction to negative social effects (panhandling, substance abuse, loitering, and shanty towns). The well-written text is followed by a list of organizations that work on behalf of the homeless and an extensive bibliography. Comparable titles include Elaine Landau's The Homeless (Messner, 1987), which contains interviews with homeless individuals, and Margaret Fagan's The Fight Against Homelessness (Watts, 1990), which gives an overview of the worldwide scope of this problem.-Cynthia M. Sturgis, Ledding Library, Milwaukee, OR
Merri MonksThe roots of homelessness and the whys behind the increasing numbers of homeless people are explained in clear language, photographs (both in color and in black and white), and readable statistical charts. Nichelason traces the changing demographics of the U.S. homeless population over the past 50 years. As part of the Pro/Con series, this looks at opposing viewpoints regarding responsibility for these individuals. Should the government provide for them, or are they, as Ronald Reagan said, "homeless by choice"? Much of the book's focus is on the plight of homeless families and the problems their children face, particularly regarding school, thus placing homelessness in a context and on a scale familiar to the book's intended audience. Also included are descriptions of relief efforts, one spearheaded in Philadelphia by an 11-year-old boy. The book is well researched and extensively annotated (in endnotes), includes a list of resources to contact, and has a glossary and a bibliography. This well-written and appealing book is an excellent homework resource for students, but it will also attract those whose reading preference is nonfiction.
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