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.
Jencks…subjects the various explanations of homelessness to rigorous analysis. Much conventional wisdom withers under his scrutiny… Jencks’s thinking is guided by a zeal for the truth that has been sadly lacking in homelessness policy over the past decade.
Jencks is a savvy and clear-thinking policy analyst… An honest and illuminating portrait of homelessness in America… [A] superb book.
Because homelessness has become so politicised, its possible causes and cures the battleground of lobbies, the true nature of the problem has been lost in an ideological blur. This readable and relentlessly logical book…successfully strips away the dogma.
Clear, unclouded by political preconceptions and rigorously logical, Jencks takes a much needed fresh look at debates that generally yield more heat than light… By the end of the book, even readers who disagree with his conclusions will feel thoroughly educated about one of America’s most pressing social problems.
Much of this concise text is taken up evaluating the validity of claims made by liberals and conservatives as to the causes of the ’80s homelessness epidemic… No previous work, to my knowledge, has tried so assiduously to winnow fact from rhetoric in so many complex policy realms.
How is it that a 57-year-old sociology professor can transcend hyped-up numbers, ideological cant, and government obfuscation to tell us roughly how many homeless there are and where they come from? Our biggest and best news organizations have been unable to perform this simple task for nearly fifteen years.
A thoughtful analysis of homelessness… Jencks’ concessions to political realities will make his study controversial.
- 176 pages
- 5-9/16 x 8-11/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.