Homelessness is one of the most compelling social problems in the United States. Dating from the early years in Colonial America to the current problems relating to homeless women and children, homelessness has been the topic of discussion of scholars, social activists, and policy makers. Many types of social problems are linked to homelessness, including poverty, substance abuse, foster care, and crime. As a result, unpacking the issues has proven to be a challenge for anyone interested in this topic. Homelessness in America offers an assessment of what is known about each segment of the homeless population, which contrary to conventional belief, is comprised of a wide variety of faces from many backgrounds. It explains linkages to other social issues and provides a balanced overview of homelessness in light of the varying perspectives on the topic.
While much of what has been written about homelessness has come from the academic perspective, agendas often interfere with an accurate understanding of the problem. Clearly, there is a place for other types of perspectives, including those that view homelessness through political and legal lenses. These groups have provided us with a robust body of information within which we may better understand the questions relating to homelessness. McNamara has brought together the voices of these groups in order to reveal the numerous political, economic and social constraints that beset current attempts to solve homelessness. In addition, the commonly held belief that homelessness is a result of laziness or a poor work ethic is turned on its head to reveal that homelessness is truly a multifaceted and complex issue.