Homeless men in the city of New York shelter system
Rice-White, Esther Elizabeth
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Collection of data for this study took place intermittently over a five year period from 1984 through 1988. The homeless men in this study had sought and received assistance from the City's Shelter System for a minimum of two or more years, continuously, prior to being interviewed. The urgency of this study grew out of the need to understand reasons for the burgeoning of the homeless population in every United States city, more in some places than others. The precipitating causes of homelessness found in the literature and recorded in the life experience of the H.M. in the study, were unemployment, declining real income, displacement, rent inflation, poor community follow-up of deinstitutionalized patients and diminishing public assistance benefits that had been long in the making.;While patterns of life experiences for each respondent were individual, information gathered during this study indicated the presence of certain common characteristics in each respective background that provided insight into the diversity and homogeneity of this population as a whole, before coming to the shelter. Certain contributory social factors such as estrangement from family and other isolated interpersonal relationships were seen as being common to most of these long-term residents. Usually the time period of the shelter residents' estrangement from their families and relatives long pre-dated the time of their admission to the shelter systems. Observations of changes could be noted in the respondents' value systems from that of their families and former associates.;Sixty-four percent (64%) of the respondents who had siblings, were either the oldest or youngest child in their respective families. Respondents with a history of foster home placements during childhood sought shelter placement readily, subsequent to discharge from military service.;This study has built on and added to an indeed, sparse body of knowledge about the long term homeless residents in the City shelter system. As the tangle of stresses has increased in complexity and resignation (i.e., an absence of an ability to push back) has set in, the shelter system has become a one-way safety net for both residents and society-at-large.