Before a post-divorce road trip Chris Ames had been ensconced in French domesticity, with a wife, two children, and a regular job. Returning to Paris after that trip, he became an American vagabond and seeker who, lacking sufficient means and motivation to pay the rent and invest again in permanence, opted for homelessness. He soon found an unexpected place to pitch his tent—an abandoned golf course. Ames recounts a full year spent living there, with little baggage, through snow and heat, while commuting to his job as an English teacher in the city. Developing his urban-survivor skills, he rekindles relationships, starts others, offers glimpses of Parisian society—homeless and not—and ruminates on direction and the lack thereof.
Ames circles serious questions, rarely losing a sense of irony, bewilderment, or amusement, especially at his circumstances, with their inherent discomforts, risks, and not-so-reassuring self-revelation. As readers see him stumble into renewed social bonds, his skewed searching and unconventional existence will engage and sometimes befuddle them.
“I’m not saying become homeless, but do understand it opens many doors, and helps us appreciate the doors we can close.”—from the introduction
Winner of the Nonfiction Award in the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Original Writing Competition
LEE MAYNARD West Virginia University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3563.A96384C56 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Cinco Becknell is the story of a homeless man with no memory. Locked in the emptiness of his mind is a secret, a past, which will either keep him alive or get him killed.
As Cinco staggers through a dangerous journey of rediscovery, he is hunted by psychopaths who want to kill him, and he has no idea why; he is shadowed by a woman who may keep him alive—or not; and he is finally helped by another woman who can bring back to him the light he looks for—if he can stay alive. But he is running out of time, and people around him are dying, always violently.
Gradually, he begins to understand the true, brutal, nature of himself and of the darkness of his past. But it is a past, and a present, that he may never fully understand.
This novel, based on generations of violent, local family history, is set in the underbelly of the pseudo-glitzy streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Los Angeles, California, and Berlin, Germany, have been dubbed "homeless capitals" for having the largest homeless populations of their respective countries. In Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin, Jürgen von Mahs provides an illuminating comparative analysis of the impact of social welfare policy on homelessness in these cities. He addresses the opportunity of people to overcome--or "exit"--homelessness and shows how Berlin, with its considerable social and economic investment for assisting its homeless has been as unsuccessful as Los Angeles.
Drawing on fascinating ethnographic insights, von Mahs shows how homeless people in both cities face sociospatial exclusion-legal displacement for criminal activities, poor shelters in impoverished neighborhoods, as well as market barriers that restrict reintegration. Providing a necessary wake-up call, Down and Out in Los Angeles and Berlin addresses the critical public policy issues that can produce effective services to improve homeless people's chances for a lasting exit.
How do homeless people perceive their plight? Specifically, how does their situation affect their sense of personal dignity? In intensive interviews with one hundred adult heads of homeless families, Barry Seltser and Donald Miller ask these questions, previously not dealt with in the growing literature on homelessness. Homeless Families sensitizes readers, challenging them to consider their own moral and social responses to homeless people.
The homeless men and women represented in this book speak candidly about their plight, its origins, and the many obstacles to escaping it. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that Las Vegas’s focus on tourism, indulgence, and diversion offers its homeless residents. This compelling and emotionally charged ethnography counters many of the stereotypes of homeless men and women, revealing the remarkable diversity of their circumstances. It also offers their perspectives on social services and civic attitudes toward homelessness.
You see them as faceless shapes on the median or in city parks. You recognize them by their cardboard signs, their bags of aluminum cans, or their weathered skin. But you do not know them.
In Nomads of a Desert City Barbara Seyda meets the gazes of our homeless neighbors and, with an open heart and the eye of an accomplished photographer, uncovers their compelling stories of life on the edge.
Byrdy is a teenager from Alaska who left a violent husband and misses the young daughter her mother now cares for. Her eyes show a wisdom that belies her youth. Samuel is 95 and collects cans for cash. His face shows a lifetime of living outside while his eyes hint at the countless stories he could tell. Lamanda worked as an accountant before an act of desperation landed her in prison. Now she struggles to raise the seven children of a woman she met there. Dorothy—whose earliest memories are of physical and sexual abuse—lives in a shelter, paycheck to paycheck, reciting affirmations so she may continue “to grace the world with my presence.”
They live on the streets or in shelters. They are women and men, young and old, Native or Anglo or Black or Hispanic. Their faces reflect the forces that have shaped their lives: alcoholism, poverty, racism, mental illness, and abuse. But like desert survivors, they draw strength from some hidden reservoir.
Few recent studies on homelessness offer such a revealing collection of oral history narratives and compelling portraits. Thirteen homeless women and men open a rare window to enrich our understanding of the complex personal struggles and triumphs of their lives. Nomads of a Desert City sheds a glaring light on the shadow side of the American Dream—and takes us to the crossroads of despair and hope where the human spirit survives.
There is little doubt among scientists and the general public that homelessness, mental illness, and addiction are inter-related. In Of Others Inside, Darin Weinberg examines how these inter-relations have taken form in the United States. He links the establishment of these connections to the movement of mental health and addiction treatment from redemptive processes to punitive ones and back again, and explores the connection between social welfare, rehabilitation, and the criminal justice system.
Seeking to offer a new sociological understanding of the relationship between social exclusion and mental disability, Of Others Inside considers the general social conditions of homelessness, poverty, and social marginality in the U.S. Weinberg also explores questions about American perceptions of these conditions, and examines in great detail the social reality of mental disability and drug addiction without reducing people's suffering to simple notions of biological fate or social disorder.
Bobby Burns University of Arizona Press, 1998 Library of Congress HV4506.T83B87 1998 | Dewey Decimal 362.5092
Bobby Burns arrived in Tucson, Arizona, with a few dollars in his pocket and no place to live. Without family, without a job, he had nowhere to go but a homeless shelter. How did a college graduate find himself so close to life on the streets? In a voice that is startling for its simplicity and utter honesty, Burns tells the story of how he slipped into homelessness, how he learned what it means to live in a place where nobody will notice if you disappear, and how he emerged to tell his story. Bobby's diary of 41 days without a home brings readers into the world of a homeless shelter.
Shelter is filled with the sights and sounds of homelessness. Shelter life is patterned by meals provided by church volunteers, lines for soap and clean towels, the repeated meticulous washing of hands by an obsessive-compulsive resident, the rare pleasure of a fried chicken dinner, the illicit smell of marijuana within the shelter. Burns witnesses the residents' struggles with drugs, alcohol, and disability, and he wonders daily whether he will have the courage to emerge from this life. Bobby's diary expresses the full range of emotions of a homeless person: anger, self-pity, pride, humility, shame, depression, and optimism. These are not contradictions; taken together they represent the real feelings provoked by homelessness.
But with rare inner courage, Bobby stokes the fires of hope within himself, marking the days in his journal to keep himself from sliding deeper into a spiral of despair. Bobby confronts his own stereotypes about the homeless and learns firsthand what it means to struggle daily for survival and for dignity. He learns greater courage and he learns greater kindness. He is given food and a bed for 41 days, but he finds shelter on his own, deep within himself.
Homelessness is usually discusses in terms of its origins or in terms of its amelioration. Media accounts focus on poverty, drug use, lack of shelter, the social safety net, or attempts by the homeless, social service agencies, and government to end homelessness by policy and direct action. Yet we never seem to get a clear picture of who the homeless are. We are exposed to them as a social problem, but we learn little about their daily existence.
In Something Left to Lose, Gwendolyn A. Dordick gives us a dramatic portrait of the social and personal lives of the homeless. Through her extensive "hanging out" with homeless people, Dordick came to a profound understanding of the web of relationships that provides complex social structure in situations where, to the casual eye, there appears to be only chaos and paralysis.
The author shows us that improvising shelter means working hard to co-exist with others. Lacking conventional private dwellings, the homeless find or create shelter in unconventional places -- on street corners adjoining bus stations, on empty lots of land, or in shelters, public or private -- and negotiate the rules of these places with authorities, passersby, and fellow homeless.
The different environments lead to quite different social relations. The Armory, for example, is a frightening place, thanks to the authoritarian attitudes of the employees and cliques of homeless people in charge. In the Shanty, on the other hand, the difficult issues are those of a self-governing community concerned about safety -- controlling the drug use of some residents, deciding who is allowed to tap into the electricity, and worrying about intruders.
In all settings, daily life for people without homes, like daily life for people with homes, if full of the concerns of personal relationships. How will we share our goods and emotions, speak respectfully to each other, love and joke and work out our disputes, and act in a trustworthy fashion?
This book is also a miniature research odyssey, complete with moments of fear, frustration, blunders, distrust, and trust. In order to gather these interviews, Dordick had to not only win the the confidence of the homeless people she visited (the women at the Station thought she was interested in their boyfriends) but also negotiate with unsympathetic police and shelters employees or defy them.
In writing a nativity story from the point of view of a boy who lives in the stable, Shirley Taylor has given us a vivid account of Christ’s birth and a motivating experience to readers and hearers, alike. Likely to become an ‘instant classic’ of Christian literature, this simple story will inspire thousands of retellings by pastors, Christian educators, parents and grandparents.
"Shirley Taylor's story gives readers and hearers insight into the town of Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Christ. Wendell Hall's illustrations help us imagine that scene wonderfully. The young homeless boy touches our hearts and imaginations. Not just for children, this is a read aloud book for all ages." - Lauretta Phillips, Storyteller, Author, Radio & TV Host
In this book, Alisse Waterston reveals the economic, political, and ideological forces that shape the nature of street-addict life. Disputing the view that hard-core, low-income drug users are social marginals situated in deviant subcultures, the author dispels popular images of the mythic, dark dope fiend haunting our city streets. Using dramatic, first-person accounts from New York City addicts, Waterston analyzes their position in the social structure, the kind of work -- both legal and illegal -- they perform, and their relations with family, friends, and lovers. She presents a moving account of daily life from the addict's point of view and demonstrates how addicts are structurally vulnerable to the larger sociocultural system within which they live.