chapter  Two
20 Pages

Homeless in America: The New American Nightmare

During the past decade a disturbing and largely unexpected new problem has arisen in American cities—the "new homeless". Most homeless people in America are men, but a sizable fraction is women and a smaller but still significant fraction is the children of homeless adults. It is transparent that homelessness is only a small part of the larger poverty problem in the nation. Among the various disabilities that homeless people suffer, alcohol abuse has traditionally figured prominently, and continues to do so. Alcohol abuse and homelessness are tightly linked in the popular stereotype, but the best available studies confirm that less that 40" of the total homeless population abuses alcohol to excess. Whatever the root cause or causes, becoming homeless is a process that requires explication. Most poor people, even most of the very poor, manage to avoid literal homelessness and secure for themselves some sort of reasonably stable housing situation.