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The Homeless Paperback – April 14, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0674405967 ISBN-10: 067440596X

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067440596X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674405967
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Noted sociologist Jencks ( Rethinking Social Policy ), who teaches at Northwestern University, here offers a brief but instructive survey and analysis of much literature on the homeless. Concentrating on the "visible homeless" (street people and those using shelters), Jencks agrees that their numbers have risen but also notes that his estimate of 400,000 homeless in 1987-1988 is disputed by many advocacy groups as far too low. He attributes the proliferation of mentally ill homeless people both to liberal policies boosting individual autonomy and to conservative policies that cut mental health budgets. He suggests that the "cumulative effect" of having been born disadvantaged, not merely bad luck, leads to the streets. He blames crack and deinstitutionalization for fueling homelessness among individuals and cites skimpy welfare payments, the growth of single motherhood and crack addiction (again) as leading to homeless families. He recommends certain admittedly stopgap measures: increased welfare payments or subsidized housing for families; a day-labor market supported by government and private sources for working adults; and social services and intervention for the mentally ill.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In this brief but thoughtful analysis of homelessness, Jencks, a sociology professor at Northwestern University, focuses on what he calls the "visible homeless": those who "slept in a public place or a shelter" (the latter includes welfare hotels) during a given week. After wrestling with the numbers (appendixes spell out the methodology used and provide supplementary tables), Jencks discusses in some detail the factors he feels are most significant in pushing Americans onto the streets: deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, crack cocaine, joblessness and declining marriage rates, reduced welfare benefits, and the destruction of skid rows across the country. A final chapter offers "Some Partial Solutions"; among them, cubicle hotels to give homeless people a bit of privacy and stability; recognition that, even with training, many former welfare mothers will need continuing subsidies; a publicly run day-labor market for childless homeless adults who can work, and improved disability benefits for those who cannot; and vouchers to allow homeless Americans to select support services they feel are worthwhile. Jencks' concessions to political realities will make his study controversial. Mary Carroll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth E. Wagner Jr. on December 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jencks is one of the best sociologists in the world. He is a liberal, but you would not know it from this work (not that this work is 'conservative'). Here what you get is concise, well investigated and well written social science by one of the best. Jencks calmly demolishes myths about the homeless, and then walks through the various causal explanations offered by the right and left. Where he finds support he publishes it, and thats a lot considering the politicized nature of much social science. This book, though dated now, would be essential reading for those who want to understand or help the homeless in the U.S.. What really impresses me about his work is his humility about what social science does and can do while demonstrating its merits through his analysis.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Terri Merritts on July 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone raised by parents who volunteered with the homeless (and often took in elderly and disabled ones) and who has spent her whole life volunteering with the homeless, I like to learn all I can to make myself even more effective as a volunteer and an advocate. This book only succeeded in giving me a headache before putting me to sleep.

This is not written in a clear narrative but is instead quite choppy. The author admits that the statistics he is including are just guesses but bases his conclusions on them anyway. For example, at the time of the writing of this book, the Census Bureau and those who supplied statistics about how many people are homeless did NOT count those who lived in parks, in subway stations, in abandoned buildings,under bridges, in doorways, in parks, in cars, and in other places than homeless shelters as being homeless. They also did not count teen runaways who lived on the streets. Now obviously all of these people ARE homeless but if you only count people who are in a homeless shelter on a given night, you miss most homeless people.

I am one who is a stickler for research and verifiable facts, not just guesswork and all of this dry-as-dust book is based pretty much on guesswork with the caveat that research or facts in the situation are not available.

The author raises many of the reasons given for homelessness but then shoots them down using data he admits is not applicable or based on research with homeless people. I think he really needed to actually go out and do research on the homeless or forego writing this book altogether. Guesswork is NOT social science which is based on research and facts. There are no case histories of actual homeless people included nor did the writer do any research on them. To find out why people are homeless, you need to go to the homeless and find out the facts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice book, now a bit outdated. A good example of how to elaborate a good investigation when there is little information
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By Timothy on August 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was informative. I learned:

Which public policies cause homelessness.
What kind of society we are.
That the solution to homelessness is simple.
Some people profit from homelessness.
And More...
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