Homelessness in America

3563 Words15 Pages
Homelessness in America
Social Program: Public Housing


The issue of homelessness is one that I can relate to all too well. About twenty five years ago I found myself among the homeless. My story is simple, I had no formal education and was working a job making minimum wage. I couldn’t keep up with my rent and other living expenses and was finally evicted from my overpriced apartment. At the time I was on a waiting list for public housing for which there was at least a two year waiting period. The fact that I was single, with no children did not help me either. For a while I lived on the streets and in shelters, too ashamed to approach what family members I had with my problems knowing that they were
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New York City had started to provide publicly funded housing before the act was created and was one of the programs that the government used as a model. According to Bauman, (1987)public housing was not originally created to help the “poorest of the poor,” it was created to house select segments of the working class, specifically the “submerged middle class,” who were temporarily outside the labor market during the depression. These benefits were targeted to whites and helped move them to suburbs but kept blacks concentrated in cities and inner suburbs. The distribution of federal benefits made it possible for mostly white working-class people to move out of public housing, and contributed to a downward income shift in the public housing population after the 1940’s. These discriminatory practices were documented by (Massey & Denton, 1993). At one time, public housing had been thought of as a solution for inner city poverty, isolation, and as a basic human necessity for less well-off people (Riis 1890; Marcuse 1986b (1978); Stegman 1990). It was believed by most advocates, that good housing was humane and necessary to the well-being of all people and would greatly improve the quality of life of the people who lived in slums. They envisioned public housing as a way of fulfilling part of the states responsibility to ensure that decent, affordable housing was available for all residents of the U.S. The first national

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