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The Homeless

The Homeless

Christopher Jencks

ISBN 9780674405967

Publication date: 03/15/1995

How widespread is homelessness, how did it happen, and what can be done about it? These are the questions explored by Christopher Jencks, America’s foremost analyst of social problems. Jencks examines the standard explanations and finds that the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, the invention of crack cocaine, rising joblessness among men, declining marriage rates, cuts in welfare benefits, and the destruction of skid row have all played a role. Changes in the housing market have had less impact than many claim, however, and real federal housing subsidies actually doubled during the 1980s. Not confining his mission to studying the homeless, Jencks proposes several practical approaches to helping the homeless.


  • In his new book, Christopher Jencks sets out to bring clarity and sense to the public debate. He systematically reviews and evaluates a large body of research literature on the homeless and, in less than 200 pages of tersely written and tightly argued text, he deftly leads the reader through a maze of assertions… He writes lucidly and compellingly and, what is more, he does not pull his punches… The Homeless is undoubtedly a major achievement… [Jencks’] findings defy not only the wisdom of the average sidewalk sociologist, but also the arguments of many established researchers… The Homeless, with its challenging findings, is a bold book… Mr. Jencks, with his masterly exposition of complex data and his discriminating, well-balanced assessments, goes a long way toward restoring confidence in the capacity of the social sciences to transcend politically loaded policy analysis. He also goes a long way toward restoring a modicum of realism to public debate.

    —Brigitte Berger, New York Times Book Review


  • Christopher Jencks is John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Urban Affairs at Northwestern University.

Book Details

  • 176 pages
  • 5-9/16 x 8-11/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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