The homelessness crisis in the United States has reached epidemic proportions as the diversity of the homeless population expands to the point where it resembles the general population. The deepest and most long-standing cause of homelessness is poverty, but there are other forces as well, including the severe shortage of affordable housing (particularly due to urban renewal); deep funding cuts at the federal, state, and local level; the policy of deinstitutionalization; the Vietnam war; and unemployment. A new public policy approach to homelessness is needed, one which addresses these multiple forces and is grounded in the assumptions that housing and a decent standard of living are rights and entitlements. There are several elements to this fresh approach which, taken together, require a fundamental mobilization of political will.



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