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Without Keys: My 15 Weeks With the Street People

McDonough, Pat

4 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0965346706 / ISBN 13: 9780965346702
Published by Terra Sancta Press, Inc., Hopkins, MN, 1996
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From Glued To The Tube Books (Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.)

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"The book WITHOUT KEYS immerses us in the experience of street people as BLACK LIKE ME by John Harry Griffin immersed us in the experience of Black people in the United States in the '60s. It overcomes stereotypes while still being realistic. The book is very important for jusitice and peace studies." {David W. Smith}. This book has 393 pages and is illustrated. Bookseller Inventory # 015152

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Without Keys: My 15 Weeks With the Street ...

Publisher: Terra Sancta Press, Inc., Hopkins, MN

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Pictorial Softcover

Illustrator: R. Padre Jonson {Art By}

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Edition: First Edition {First Printing}

About this title


A middle-class professional woman suddenly finds herself without money and homeless in the middle of a Minneapolis winter. Without Keys is the story of the author's experiences, and the stories of the people she knew on the street. People become homeless for many reasons. Alcohol, drug abuse, and mental illness are the stereotypes, but there were also battered women, high-school dropouts and ex-cons that no one would hire, kids who had been thrown out by their parents, the priest who was ready to retire and was told that the order was bankrupt and there were no retirement funds, people who'd been living from paycheck to paycheck and been laid off, and people who'd been bankrupted by medical expenses. A very few were on the street by choice. This wide-ranging book contains vignettes of dozens of street people. The interviews are reminiscent of those in Studs Terkel's books. It tells of the struggles to live when you have to carry all your possessions with you, when you can't call for an appointment because you don't have a quarter, when there's no place to receive mail or phone calls, when there's no way to clean up and dress for a job interview. It tells of how others relate to the homeless, and the dichotomy of being an office worker with a temp job from 8-5, and a street person the rest of the day. Without Keys contains numerous extracts from a journal kept by McDonough during her experience, and delves into not only the day-to-day details but also the psychological and spiritual struggle, the sociology, and the politics of homelessness. There are also sections dedicated to social workers, church volunteers, nutrition and feeding programs, and public policy. Recommended for those who enjoy “real-life” vignettes, those interested in the public policy and sociological aspects of homelessness, and students of peace and justice studies. Suitable also for general reading adults and most high school students.

From the Back Cover:

"Without Keys is one of the two great books on homelessness. The other is Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell. Pat tells her story in a way that is meaningful to the reader and true to the life on the street. I urge everyone to read this book." - Greg Horan, Past President, Minnesota and St. Paul Coalitions to End Homelessness

"I love, love, love, love, love your book! I couldn't put it down." - Phyllis King Marzano

"Discover revealing and enlightening insights into homelessness in Without Keys: My 15 Weeks With the Street People, by Pat McDonough. This exciting page-turner was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. This book was first to challenge the too restrictive economic policies of the Federal Reserve! Without Keys even questions the basis of A.H. Maslow's hierarchy of need! Through the eyes of the author, a middle-class woman, the book Without Keys gives the reader an experience of homelessness, accessing social services, exchanging conversation, hearing stories of the street people. It is a comprehensive primer on the successes and weaknesses of the system that provides services to homeless people. How does it change them? What works and what doesn't?—not only for homeless people but also the social service providers and volunteers. The sections on medical care, dental care, nutrition and mental health may surprise you." - Judity Erdmann

"This book is a 15-week diary of the author's life experiences while she was staying in a shelter with homeless people. It is easy reading and it grabs your attention so that you do not want to put the book down. It is a must read." - Marge Hartung

"I teach a class on Homelessness and have used this book for several years. Not only do I enjoy re-reading this book each year, but every class has found this book to be the best book of the class." - David J. Schultz, Metro State Univ, Minneapolis, MN

"Ms. McDonough's vignettes of the street people she encountered dramatically challenge one's assumptions about who the street people really are. She shows them as individual human beings, some with mental illness, some with alcohol and drug problems, a few ex-convicts, some just squeezed out by the 'System,' some of the street people she encountered were well-educated, some holding advanced degrees. She even met an aging Catholic priest whose order had paid no Social Security for him and which had no funds to take care of him." - Edgar Millar, Ed's Notes East Tennessee Catholic 1/26/97 p.2.

"I am awed by how you have overcome personal tragedy to do such good for our community. Your book on the street people of Minneapolis provides excellent insight to the diverse issues affecting the homeless in America." - Senator Paul Wellstone (Dem. MN, now deceased)

"[This] Book about steet people is authentic. Without Keys is a study of systemic failure. It is recommended reading for students in the social and politcal sciences, lawmakers, and ministers in peace and justice. Its usefulness as a teaching tool, however, does not overshadow the other by-product of this work—the visions and sounds of the people, their stories, and the skewed systems that help to birth these struggles." - Mary Etta Kiefer, Book Review, The Message of Southwestern Indiana

"When McDonough was still writing her book, she came to speak to my businesswomen's group about it—and gradually dressed, as she spoke, in the clothes she wore when she was homeless. There was a powerful impact in noting differences in how we 'heard' her then, from how we'd 'heard' her when she was seen to be 'like us,' minutes before. We averted our eyes. One member said it was one of the most memorable talks we'd heard in 15 years of monthly programs. The book does that too; it makes it uncomfortable to see street people as 'them' rather than 'us.' 'There, but for a good break, go I'--not to mention the realigning of one's perception of 'there but for the grace of God,' for there are many excerpts in the book (from her journal at the time) that address the painful spiritual growth that results from such a wrenching experience. I no longer think that I could survive even a few days, if I suddenly found myself to be a baglady, yet I'd always thought of myself as resourceful, resilient, frugal, educated, middle class. Think again. I'd need a lot of help. This country cannot afford to pretend that Americans who are (usually temporarily) indisposed far enough to have lost their living quarters for the moment are somehow different or 'un-American.' They are us. What we do about those of us with these problems--including the elderly and the ill--may someday become very personally relevant and (if we don't do better, faster) could become a big national problem. The housing situation in Minneapolis at the moment is veering sharply away from keeping some of us in affordable housing who used to be 'the working poor' rather than 'the homeless.' The situation needs to be addressed by those in legislatures, healthcare, social services, volunteer groups. This book can help them to understand better. Very often the real view from the street is not understood by those who 'help' them, as when the physician who treats the understandably ulcerated feet of those who have no place to sit down, let alone a sink with warm water, tells the patient to 'soak her feet.' Right. How?" - Ginny Hansen, Book Review, Minneapolis, MN

"This book is about a well-educated and capable adult woman and her children, who was literally forced to be homeless by the court system. Given a similar set of circumstances, we could all be in her shoes! This book tells a straight forward story of how the author became homeless, what she did to cope, and how she dragged her family out of this overwhelming situation. This book should be read by anyone, adult or teen, who has become too familiar with the good things that many Americans feel entitled to." - James V. Larson, Book Review, Minneapolis, MN

"My eyes are really opening regarding the homeless and their plight, as well as that of the social workers. How hard it must be to stay sane and balanced due to the obstacles in their way of progress . . . and all the red tape!! Without Keys should be read by everyone." - Marie E. Roman, educator

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