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Abstract

Significant ambiguities inhere in the operational definitions of "site" and "selected components of the homeless population" used in the 1990 S-Night Count. Ethnographic methods offer a useful corrective. This article, covering research that was part of a larger project evaluating the S-Night count, describes a brief ethnographic inquiry into the ecology of public spaces occupied by the homeless poor in New York City. Problems in implementation, surprising ease of access, patterns of mobility and prevailing norms from site to site, and the tenuous character of the street sites are reviewed, as are implications for future enumeration efforts.

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