Resource Proposal #1 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Social

Name of Resource and Citation: The Visible Poor (book)

Blau, Joel. The Visible Poor: Homelessness in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.

Topic for Paper: Homelessness in the United States


Homelessness is often thought to be a “problem” mainly in big cities, but I’ve grown up around homelessness my entire childhood, and I’m from Maryland suburbs. With my white paper, I would like to synthesize the core causes and history of homelessness, analyze what programs and policies exist currently to reduce homelessness in the country, and what scholars propose we can still do today in order to improve upon the faults of past policy.

Do you want to focus on rural, suburban or non-urban?  Is the scope different?  The causes?

I’ll likely end up focusing on urban causes and solutions, suggesting one or two key solutions in particular (about job creation and housing programs for those currently homeless; rather than prevention)

Definitions of homelessness have changed over time, but the term is more often narrowly defined for the sake of political agenda and policy. Some argue the majority of the homeless suffer from drug addiction or mental disorders and are in their situation by their own fault.

Do they actually have any evidence about “their own fault”?  I think mental illness and drugs are prevalent, however, some drug addiction is mental health treatment by other means…

I’ll have to look into the statistics about mental health, drugs, and healthy individuals who are homeless

Others claim homelessness is strictly bad luck. Homelessness is considered to have always existed, but it has not always been the same. Rather, there have been five periods of homelessness, if not more, according to Joel Blau, Professor of Social Policy at Stony Brook School of Social Welfare. Policy in history includes federal funding for shelters, with some local governments simply creating shelters and others working with the nonprofit sector. However, some researchers point out shelter is not the main solution to this issue. Job training, income security, and affordable housing are all suggestions for improvement. Building self-esteem, a sense of worth and potential, is also argued as a first step.

Joel Blau evaluates the true causes of homelessness in the United States, specifies the response governments, the law, advocates, and other groups had at the time, and offers recommendations of social policy. While his book, The Visible Poor, was published in 1993, I agree with some of his ideas for decreasing homelessness. This includes a national welfare standard equal to the poverty line, earned income tax credits, and an increase in the minimum wage. The homeless may be able to attain a low-paying job, but that job is often still paying too little for that individual to support his family or save enough to purchase a home. While this is the first summarizing source I have truly evaluated, I will compare future research to Blau’s arguments and ideas to develop my final policy proposal and stance on the issue of homelessness.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the date.  I doubt some of the basic causes and impacts have changed in their nature.  Maybe their scope.  You can also do a cited reference work on Blau’s book.  Check if he has written more recent stuff.

Resource Proposal #2 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Government

Name of Resource and Citation: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

“United States Interagency Council on Homelessness: Resources.” United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. USICH, 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <;.

Topic for Paper: Homelessness

This government website has a plethora of resources, including past research (including cost-effectiveness studies), tools for local action, a homelessness map, and a “solutions database”, a search engine for solutions, with the following description and content:

Screen shot 2015-04-22 at 9.05.45 PM While I have yet to explore the extent of this database and the website itself, it does portray that many organizations are often interconnected at a local level in order to facilitate an initiative towards ending homelessness. However, these local programs do often rely upon funding from national programs. So in my paper I assume my policy proposal will need to encompass a national program that will allow for local programs to make use of these funds.

I intend to use this website to further research the many programs various states and counties have employed to determine an ideal initiative to propose. Considering this site also shows New York, California, and Texas to have the greatest number of homeless, I may narrow my research and proposal to New York City.

Sounds like a good idea.  Good resource.

Screen shot 2015-04-22 at 9.01.46 PM


Resource Proposal #3 (more on proposals)

Type (Biz, Gov, or Soc): Business

Name of Resource and Citation: Pine Street Inn non-profit organization

“Organization.” Pine Street Inn. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <;.

Topic for Paper: Homelessness

The mission of this organization is to serve as a “community of respect and hope for each guest it serves; to be a resource through which neighbors and friends can help to meet the basic needs of others; and to serve as a national leader in the fight to end homelessness”. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, it originally offered temporary housing to homeless individuals suffering from alcoholism, but now also has programs that train and find jobs for the homeless.

There are several programs that I may research further in other cities to evaluate their effectiveness and possible inclusion in my policy proposal.

  • Working Men’s and Women’s Programs – provide transitional housing for individuals who are employed either part- or full-time and saving a percentage of their earnings to eventually access permanent housing. Those accepted in the program agree to maintain sobriety, open a bank account to save for an apartment and meet with a counselor weekly. Employment assistance and support groups are offered on-site.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Services – on-site substance abuse counselors identify individual treatment needs when guests check in, provide short-term assessments and interventions and ensure referrals to appropriate treatment programs.
  • IMPACT Employment Services – provides job search assistance, skill development training (including computer proficiency training), job referrals, and job retention and career advancement support (also providing email, clothing, and transportation assistance); they often fill job orders from restaurants and hospitals with individuals who have gone through its food service, building maintenance, and housekeeping training programs, but also place skilled workers, who were homeless, into relevant jobs.

For the homeless, finding a job is not as simple as scrolling through job listings online or scheduling an interview with an employment counselor. Many have major barriers to overcome, from the lack of a phone or interview clothes to gaps in work history to disabilities and criminal records. They’re also often at the mercy of a shelter’s schedule, where meals are served at precise hours, beds for the night are given out at a certain time, and the line to use a washing machine can be long.

Multiple programs within a larger organization, at a local level, seems like a beneficial solution to homelessness. This site will be biased and avoid sharing any stories in which once-homeless workers placed in jobs ended up back on the streets, so there is the chance these programs are not as successful as they seem or are extremely costly, but I hope to look further into articles about the organization to determine the validity and promise of these types of solutions to homelessness.

You may want to look at Ben’s page too.  He found some other model programs and described them.  Both of you have found information about how even though there is a surface similarity in having no  stable residence, that can mask many different underlying causes.


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