chapter  Eight
24 Pages

Who Can Be Helped, and How?

The dynamics of homelessness derive from large-scale trends in the nation's political economy. The homeless were too hostile toward institutions, too suspicious and disaffiliated, too hard to locate, and too noncompliant to help very much. Homelessness is an existential condition that is strongly destructive of physical wellbeing; as such, homeless people are often much more ill, on the average, than people in general or even poverty persons in general. The current costs of homelessness are not only dispersed across a large number of jurisdictions, they are also often indirect and hard to calculate. There is no doubt that many of the public housing projects were blights on the urban landscape —but so is homelessness. One especially commendable stipulation in the McKinney Act is that local health programs for the homeless coordinate service delivery with independent mental health, alcoholism, and drug abuse programs.