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The Man in the Dog ParkComing Up Close to Homelessness$
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Cathy A. Small

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748783

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748783.001.0001

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The Road to Homelessness

The Road to Homelessness

(p.7) 2 The Road to Homelessness
The Man in the Dog Park

Cathy A. Small

Jason Kordosky

Ross Moore

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines what “causes” homelessness. It is not easy to parse out the specific interaction of personal, social, and structural factors that brings anyone's life to homelessness. In the stories of homeless people, one sees contributing individual circumstances and personal decisions, but there is also poverty, rent inflation, educational inequity, a low minimum wage, racism, homophobia, predatory lending, domestic abuse, an unaddressed national drug problem, and an uneven legal system. Beyond the multiple factors seen openly in the narratives are underpinnings, more deeply embedded in American life. These include structural changes in the U.S. economy that shipped factory jobs overseas; transformations in the national housing market; the lack of relative expansion in the government “safety net”; and, significantly, the pervasiveness of sociopolitical norms and attitudes that stigmatize the homeless in the policy sphere. The chapter then looks at the connection between mental illness and homelessness.

Keywords:   homelessness, homeless people, poverty, educational inequity, racism, domestic abuse, drug problem, U.S. economy, stigma, mental illness

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