Homelessness is a major social problem facing America today, and while many may see it as an intractable problem, it is not clear that this is so. What is reburied first is a close analysis of the causes of homelessness and an understanding of the characteristics of the people who find themselves homeless. Jonathan Kozol offers an analysis of one family that faced this issue that points up some of the dynamics of the issue and that should be applicable to other situations and cases.
Kozol wrote the book Rachel and Her Children in 1988, and at that time the subject of homelessness was serious but was not yet a critical issue to all forms of government. Eight years later, in 1996, most functioning Americans and all government agencies are very aware of and concerned about the number of homeless people on the streets, living in shelters, under bridges, and in tunnels. These are nameless, faceless individuals who do not have much emotional impact on the average person. Not so the story of Holly and her family as described in Kozol's book.
Holly, who spent most of her childhood in foster homes, first became pregnant in 12th grade. At that time, she became the victim of discrimination and stereotyping as an unwed, teen-mother. This led to a series of low-paying jobs, lack of confidence, and in time another child. At one point, she tried to go back to school to complete a GED, but this educational attempt was interrupted when her mother, with whom she was then living, was evicted. At this point, she was forced to turn to welfare to support her children. She was living in a homeless shelter when she learned she was pregnant for the third time, this time by her new husband, David. Now her nuclear family consisted of her two children, by different fathers, and her husband, who was out of work.
Holly can be seen as living in a culture of poverty, continuing to have children in spite of being on welfare and having no pro...