Her head is blocking the “On losing your home” section …
The root causes of homelessness — societal problems such as mental illness, addiction and domestic violence — have always existed in the United States. Widespread homelessness has not.
The current crisis stems from decisions made over a generation: The flood of returning Vietnam-era vets in the 1970s coincided with a national push to de-institutionalize mental hospitals. In the 1980s and ’90s, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, the federal government got out of the business of building public housing and pushed direct responsibility for caring for poor and vulnerable people to state, county and city governments.
“We created this mess, not deliberately but certainly consciously,” said Binder, of Transition Projects. “Hospitals were deemed ‘inhumane.’ But there was no real plan for what to do with those people once they were taken out of the institutions.”
Different cities approached the rising problem of homelessness in different ways; many ignored it completely. Then Columbus, Ohio, leaders showed progress in the late 1990s with a five-year plan to wipe out long-term homelessness. Anti-poverty advocates at the National Alliance to End Homelessness embraced the concept. President George W. Bush’s homelessness czar, Philip Mangano, took the idea nationwide.
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