Malign neglect: homelessness in an American city

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Jossey-Bass Publishers, Sep 6, 1993 - Political Science - 378 pages
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Why are there so many people living in the streets today? Why are thousands more only a paycheck or two away from homelessness? In this book, Jennifer Wolch and Michael Dear reveal how homelessness happens and why "blaming the victim" doesn't work or even make sense. Malign Neglect tells the truth about homelessness in America - how we have chosen to ignore it, how our elected officials prefer not to think about it, how homelessness has become so widespread, and why any of us could become its next victims. It also clarifies what professionals and citizens alike can do to make a difference.
Malign Neglect provides a detailed account of how the homeless individual is linked to wider national, even global, forces of social change. Wolch and Dear reveal how patterns of neglect by public leadership have combined with structural changes in society to make homelessness "the most visible tip of a vast iceberg of poverty and deprivation" that has emerged out of the politics and economics of the 1980s. The authors show how twenty years of economic restructuring, the dismantling of the welfare state, demographic changes, and the collapse of affordable housing markets have led to the current crisis of homelessness.
Using the example of Los Angeles, dubbed "the homeless capital of the United States," Malign Neglect demonstrates the impact of two decades of welfare cutbacks and economic dislocation at the local level. It provides definitive accounts of the street lives of homeless people, illuminating the subculture of chronic homelessness. The authors examine local community reactions to the homeless on the streets of Venice, Pasadena, and Los Angeles and tell the story of what life is like for the homeless women on Skid Row. They describe the social networks that promote survival among people who have reached rock bottom and show how escape from homelessness requires integrated support services - for housing, health, job training, and substance abuse counseling.

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Economic Restructuring
Erosion of Affordable Housing
The Divergent Geography of Jobs and Housing

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About the author (1993)

JENNIFER R. WOLCH and MICHAEL J. DEAR are professors of geography at the University of Southern California, codirectors of the Los Angeles Homelessness Project, and authors of several books, including Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness.