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Historical and Contextual Influences on the U.S. Response to Contemporary Homelessness


Release Date: 
September 2007 (36 pages)
Posted Date:   
December 31, 2007

Walter Leginski, PhD
Retired, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC

Disclaimer: The paper presents the views and opinions of the respective author(s) and does not necessarily represent the views, positions, and policies of the federal government.

This paper reviews the nature of and responses to homelessness throughout the nation's history and the evolution of approaches to contemporary homelessness. The author notes that, in the past two decades, a de facto system of service has evolved to apply actions and services to a population experiencing homelessness, through a network of organizations that deliver services within a funding and policy context. He further states, however, that the system is not driven by specific legislation or theory. Instead of a coherent system, different approaches have been adopted by federal departments and the advocacy community. The author's assessment of progress and future opportunities focuses on the current emphasis on addressing chronic homelessness within the context of the proposed de facto system.