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The Homeless Problem

Cities Cracking Down On Homeless

Attitudes toward the homeless are changing. People see no solution to their problems and are becoming fed up with the squalor and the inconvenience they impose on others. As a result, 50 of the nation's largest cities -- and many smaller ones -- have started to crack down on street people.

  • Twice this year, Seattle's mayor has ordered an encampment where about 100 homeless people lived to be bulldozed.
  • In Huntsville, Ala., firefighters washed away a homeless enclave with fire hoses last June.
  • In Chicago, some sidewalks leading into downtown have been fenced to keep the homeless out.
  • San Francisco began moving homeless squatters from Golden Gate Park a year ago and Berkeley, across the bay, has begun removing the homeless from storefronts which had been a hangout for street people since the 1960s.

As the economy has thrived and jobs are plentiful, ordinary citizens have become impatient with what was once considered a social ill. A survey of mayors last year revealed an almost universal feeling that the strong economy has had "little or no effect" on curing homelessness.

Single men constitute 47 percent of the homeless, with only 14 percent being single women, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors survey. Families with children make up 36 percent and children 25 percent. Some 43 percent are substance abusers and 27 percent are mentally ill. Seventeen percent are employed.

Source: Laura Parker, "Homeless Find the Streets Grow Colder," USA Today, December 3, 1998.


Squalor dirty surroundings

Crack down take action

Thrive -- do well

Substance abuser drug addict or alcoholic