Cover: The Homeless in PAPERBACK

The Homeless

Add to Cart

Product Details


$31.50 • £25.95 • €28.50

ISBN 9780674405967

Publication Date: 03/15/1995


176 pages

5 line illustrations, 18 tables


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, The New York Times Book Review

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.—Heather MacDonald, The Wall Street Journal

Jencks is a savvy and clear-thinking policy analyst… An honest and illuminating portrait of homelessness in America… [A] superb book.—Douglas J. Besharov, The Washington Post Book World

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.The Economist

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.—Philip Kasinitz, Newsday

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.—Kathleen Hirsch, The Boston Sunday Globe

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.—Jon Katz, New York Magazine

A thoughtful analysis of homelessness… Jencks’ concessions to political realities will make his study controversial.—Mary Carroll, Booklist

Awards & Accolades

  • 1994 Professional & Scholarly Publishing Award in Sociology and Anthropology, Association of American Publishers
Atomic Doctors: Conscience and Complicity at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, by James L. Nolan, Jr., from Harvard University Press

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights, by William F. Schulz and Sushma Raman, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with William F. Schulz and Sushma Raman, authors of The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights

As times change so must we as a society, and that includes our conception of rights, say William F. Schulz and Sushma Raman, whose new book, The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights, came out just as Black Lives Matter protesters filled the streets this summer. We spoke with them about the current view—and the future—of human rights. How do you understand the purpose of rights? What function do they serve in a society?