Many people are only a couple of paychecks away from the streets. This book reveals how
homelessness happens and why "blaming the victim" doesn't work or even make sense. Malign
Neglect tells the truth about homelessness in America--how we have chosen to ignore it,
how our elected officials prefer not to think about it, how homelessness became so
widespread, and why even we ourselves could become its next victims--and spells out what
professionals and citizens alike can do to make a difference.
Why are there so many people living in the streets today? Why are thousands
more only a paycheck or two away from homelessness? In this book, Jennifer Wolch and Michael
Dear reveal how homelessness happens and why "blaming the victim" doesn't work or even make
sense. Malign Neglect tells the truth about homelessness in America - how we have chosen to
ignore it, how our elected officials prefer not to think about it, how homelessness has become
so widespread, and why any of us could become its next victims. It also clarifies what professionals
and citizens alike can do to make a difference. Malign Neglect provides a detailed account of
how the homeless individual is linked to wider national, even global, forces of social change.
Wolch and Dear reveal how patterns of neglect by public leadership have combined with structural
changes in society to make homelessness "the most visible tip of a vast iceberg of poverty and
deprivation" that has emerged out of the politics and economics of the 1980s. The authors show
how twenty years of economic restructuring, the dismantling of the welfare state, demographic
changes, and the collapse of affordable housing markets have led to the current crisis of homelessness.
Using the example of Los Angeles, dubbed "the homeless capital of the United States," Malign Neglect
demonstrates the impact of two decades of welfare cutbacks and economic dislocation at the local level.
It provides definitive accounts of the street lives of homeless people, illuminating the subculture
of chronic homelessness. The authors examine local community reactions to the homeless on the streets
of Venice, Pasadena, and Los Angeles and tell the story of what life is like for the homeless women on
Skid Row. They describe the social networks that promote survival among people who have reached rock
bottom and show how escape from homelessness requires integrated support services - for housing,
health, job training, and substance abuse counseling.