Bloggaday 238 – SPF: An abstract of T. Main’s “What We Know of the Homeless” pt 1
This paper was written for Professor Dias for my SSCI 306 class at CSUSB.
SSC 306 10:40-11:50
October 8, 2010
Main, T. (1988). What we know about the homeless. Commentary, 85(5) 26-31
Abstract by David Dysart. Abstract Rough Draft, 1040.
With a skeptical eye, Thomas Main systematically tackles the various reasons for homelessness and the proposed solutions. To start, he takes on the number of homelessness. While many advocates say that the number is in the millions, he shows several studies published since that original one that puts the actual number in the hundreds of thousands. He continues to say, “the estimate circulated by advocacy groups of between two and three (and even up to four) million homeless people is about ten times too high” (p. 28). Then he takes on the claim that homelessness is a problem of insufficient housing. He shows that as the rate of homelessness increased, the availability of cheap housing did not decrease enough to be the reason for it. The demand for low-income housing did, however, increase substantially, and city regulations have caused a sluggish response by landlords to get adequate housing ready for the demand. However, most homeless are able to find homes eventually. What is needed is assistance in placing them more quickly. Next, he moves to the role of disabilities in homelessness. While most advocates try to downplay its importance, Main shows that, “Somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of homeless individuals suffer form one or more major disability” (p. 30), but he warns us about stereotyping homeless as disabled as it’s only a contributing factor. Lastly, he shows that the numbers of homeless families do not support the extraordinary claims made by advocates but acknowledges that there is not enough information on their disability rates to make speculations for the reasons why they are homeless. He disputes that the cause of homelessness isn’t the government, value system, or capitalism since homelessness has always been a problem and they can’t explain the current rise of homelessness.
I ended up having to cut a bunch of material out as well as ome other stuff that I was going to write about. Here’ all of that excess material to get me to 500 words
With a skeptical eye, Thomas Main examines modern perspectives of the problems associated with homelessness. To do so, he looks at the case of Joyce Brown, a homeless, schizophrenic secretary living in New York who was thrust into becoming the mascot for NYCLU charge for the homeless.
He points out that New York’s Project Help went from helping her in their usual fashion to making an exception and hospitalizing her. That was the catalyst that led her to be the face of the homeless as she said she was mistreated and held prisoner.
“the estimate circulated by advocacy groups of between two and three (and even up to four) million homeless people is about ten times too high” (p. 28). The blinded passion that advocates is demonstrated later. When confronted with more scientific and verified numbers, people like Jonathan Kozol and Chester Hartman replied that there are simply still too many homeless, and that no person should be homeless who doesn’t want to be. Main sompares their brushing off of the true numbers as, “It is as though someone were to claim that unemployment were to claim that the unemployment rate was 60 percent and then, upon being informed that the real rate is closer to 6 percent, were to respond “No Matter whether the rate is 60 percent or 6 percent, too may people are unemployed…”
The dichotomy of making brown a star to sweep homelessness under the rug
Homelessness is a housing problem
Through examination of current studies, he found that homelessness
More intractable – diabilities
Dealing with it would require assertion of authority
Not more housing but…
Removing regulations that block allocating housing for them
When showed that homelessness is not a housing problem and disability is a contributing factor, most advocates will then move to homeless families, so Main looked at that too.
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