I told the wonderful staff at Mac’s Backs that I was interested in learning more about homelessness (there are two shelters near my new school), and I was handed this book. It is a stunning, thorough and driven account of the evolution of homelessness in the city. While I understand that World War II and even trends in social work were beyond the control of those in charge of the city, there is clear evidence here that the government, together with business leaders, simply and deliberately sought to eliminate the homeless from the city’s landscape, created more homelessness in previously black and working-class neighborhoods and legislated systems of abuse that remain in place today. Voinovich, for example, vowed to get ‘tough on crime’ and his brother was in the prison building business. Another Mayor pushed for more arrests to be made in a particular neighborhood to make it easier to push it into the hands of developers. There were signs of hope, like the Unemployed Council, with its Black Panther-like efforts at creating unity, but there were, like the Panthers, victims of the divide-and-conquer strategy.
A great and necessary book.