Street Lives: An Oral History of Homeless Americans

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9780865712379: Street Lives: An Oral History of Homeless Americans
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A collection of experiences told by homeless individuals and families from all over the country, discussing street life, crises or processes that caused their homelessness, and solutions these people are working on to support themselves

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From Library Journal:

Each of these two excellent works permits readers to empathize with a wide variety of homeless Americans by "listening" to their thoughts as revealed to the authors. Snow and Anderson focus on the people of the street subculture of Austin, Texas, between fall 1984 and summer 1986 (revisited in 1989 and early 1990). They also did extensive research, reflected in the endnotes and bibliography, and collected data from interviews, agencies and institutions. VanderStaay talked with homeless Americans across the country, recording their story in different physical contexts--temporary indoor and outdoor shelters and half-way houses. He interspersed topically arranged collections of narrative material with commentary. Both books emphasize the swelling of the numbers of homeless during the 1990s and concur that there are myriad related underlying conditions, including a change in the United States economy from industrial to service jobs; reduction of low-income housing units; stagnation of the minimum wage; absence of family support; and cuts in social program benefits. Thoughtful and readable, these complementary books are recommended for academic and larger public library social science collections.
- Suzanne Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Though some of the stories related are familiar, this book does, as author Vanderstaay argues, present a more nuanced portrait of homelessness than most accounts. Each of nine sections--including "Life on the Street" and "Work and Its Discontents"--begins with some historical context, then offers brief testimonies from homeless people around the country. Ted, a mechanic in his 50s, describes how "they treat you like a dog" in a daily labor pool. Batman, a 30-year-old ex-convict, says "society acts like it never wants to let you get started again." Tanya, a college drop-out, backs up the author's assertion that homelessness fosters mental illness: "You're not as sick as they think you are." Solutions offered by the homeless, the author writes, lack political homogeneity but are "at once personal and community-based." Vanderstaay, a teacher and writer on educational and social issues, cites a transitional housing residence in Boston, where strict rules support those who've completed detoxificaton programs; a Catholic Worker House in Iowa, where "guests" are treated as family members; and a youth center in Seattle, where runaway teens can learn to trust. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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