Christopher Jencks

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How widespread is homelessness, how did it happen, and what can be done about it? These are the questions explored by Christopher Jencks, America's foremost analyst of social problems. Jencks examines the standard explanations and finds that the deinstutionalization of the mentally ill, the invention of crack cocaine, rising joblessness among men, declining marriage rates, cuts in welfare benefits, and the destruction of skid row have all played a role. Changes in the housing market have had less impact than many claim, however, and real federal housing subsidies actually doubled during the 1980's. Finally, Jencks proposes several, practical approaches to helping the homeless.

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The Numbers
1. Counting the Homeless
2. Estimating the Increase
Promising Explanations
3. Empyting the Back Wards
4. The Crack Epidemic
5. Jobs and Marriage
6. The Destruction of Skid Row
Less-Promising Explanations
7. Social Skills and Family Ties
8. Changes in the Housing Market
9. Budget Cuts and Rent Control
Reversing the Trend
10. Do Shelters Cause Homelessness?
11. Some Partial Solutions
Appendix 1: Derivation of Tables 1 and 2
Appendix 2: Supplementary Tables