1st Edition

A Nation in Denial
The Truth About Homelessness

ISBN 9780429046018
Published March 7, 2019 by Routledge
262 Pages

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Book Description

When homelessness became increasingly visible in the early 1980s, most Americans were reluctant to admit what was obvious: that the homeless people they encountered were seriously troubled and chronically disabled by alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. The media, policymakers, and the American public, persuaded by advocates for the homeless, came to believe that the homeless were simply victims of the hardships of poverty and the lack of affordable housing, both of which were exacerbated by economic recession and the unresponsiveness of government. Policies were created in the belief that emergency shelters, soup kitchens, job training, and transitional housing would help the homeless regain their independence. A Nation in Denial challenges these accepted notions. It presents a comprehensive and readable review of the scientific evidence that up to 85 percent of all homeless adults suffer the ravages of substance abuse and mental illness, resulting in the social isolation that has been the hallmark of homelessness in the United States since colonial days. The authors provide new insights into the causes of increased homelessness in the early 1980s, linking the population explosion of the baby boom to increases in the numbers of Americans at risk for substance abuse problems, mental illness, and homelessness; assessing die relationship between the inner-city drug epidemic and increases in family homelessness; and reviewing the failed policies of deinstitutionalization, decriminalization of alcoholism, and the gentrification of both skid row neighborhoods and substance-abuse treatment centers—policies that sent thousands out into the streets and shelters. Weaving together solid demographic and epidemiological research with personal accounts of homeless individuals, this unique study not only provides a new understanding of homelessness and prompts a serious reexamination of current policies but also proposes more honest and effective ways for helping Ameri

Table of Contents

Preface -- Introduction -- Homelessness Today -- Who Are the Homeless? -- The Baby Boom and Homelessness -- Family Homelessness and the Underclass -- A Homeless Man's Story -- America's Response: Part of the Problem -- Homelessness and the American Social Experience -- A History of Homelessness -- The Politics of Homelessness -- Causes and Solutions: Confusion and Denial -- A More Reasoned Approach -- The Truth About Homelessness -- Tragedy on the Streets: A Call to Action

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