Rural Homelessness

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Rural Homelessness

As the Joad family lost its farm and hit the road in Steinbeck's classic, The Grapes of Wrath, so to did America lose its ability to plead ignorance to the problem of rural homelessness. Yet, as the troubles of the Great Depression, and two million homeless Americans, were eclipsed by a world at war, the issue of homelessness was once again placed on the back burner, and then taken off of the stove altogether (Davis 275). Although this problem has seldom been discussed in the sixty years since, rural homelessness is again on the rise and threatens to become the major problem facing rural America (Rural Homelessness).

Less than ten miles from the intersection of Sprague and Division in downtown
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Although the homeless here may be out of sight, they are still present; for a variety of reasons, the rural homeless are not as blatantly obvious as their peers in the city. For example, few rural communities have homeless shelters, which, in big cities, tend to congregate the homeless into easily identifiable groups. As a result, some indigent people are forced to find temporary shelter with friends and family; others sleep in their vehicles at campsites. This "we take care of our own" attitude tends to keep the rural homeless out of site of passers-by. Subsequently, the exact numbers of rural homeless are nearly impossible to track (Wilkinson).

While the causes of homelessness (drug addiction, fleeing from abusive relationships, mental health problems, and economic depressions) are similar for the rural and urban homeless, the demographics of the population are exceedingly dissimilar (Rural Homelessness). Julie Zimmerman, referring to the rural homeless, states, "of households living in poverty, there are very nearly as many living in two adult households", as are living in single adult households (B). Additionally, in many of the cases at least one of those adults is employed. This fact alone illustrates the difference between homelessness in the rural environment and the urban variety (Zimmerman A).

One subgroup of the rural
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