chapter  Four
26 Pages

Who Are the Homeless? 1

There are many different kinds of homeless people: men, women, and children; young, middle-aged, and old; white, black, and Hispanic; short-, medium-, and long-term homeless. At one level, homelessness is a problem rooted ultimately in the political economy of the nation; at another, it is the consequence of various personal pathologies and failings. Although the rapidly rising number of homeless families has become a matter of considerable policy concern, evidence of their proportion in the larger homeless population is hard to come by. Several dozen studies have reported information on the racial and ethnic makeup of the homeless population. The adult family members suffer fewer chronic physical disorders, are more likely to be short term homeless, and are rated as having better housing and employment prospects than the lone homeless are. Alcohol and drug abuse are common among homeless veterans, many of whom have deteriorated steadily since their service days and have ended up on the streets.