This course has a lot of reading.  Fortunately, no one has to read all of it.  Besides Library Reserve and Web-based readings, each student is expected to read FIVE books in the course of the semester.  Everyone reads the first three books listed below.  Each student then reads one “A” and one “B” book, in teams.  Those teams present the book to the rest of the class — teaching them what it contains.  

(Don’t buy the “A” and “B” books before class starts; you don’t yet know your team assignment.)

Everyone Reads:

  1. Barbara Ehrenreich: Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America, 10th Anniversary Edition (2011, Picador; ISBN 978-0312626686)
  2. Vincent Lyon-Callo: Inequality, Poverty, And Neoliberal Governance: Activist Ethnography in the Homeless Sheltering Industry 2nd edition (2004, University of Toronto Press; ISBN 978-1442600867)
  3. Toni Flynn: Finding My Way (1989/2016, Wipf and Stock; ISBN 978-1498239998)
    Back in print!!  Hooray!

Group Book Presentations: Read one each from “A” and “B” (you will be assigned specific books in class)

“A” Books:

    • Lee Stringer: Grand Central Winter  2nd edition (2010, Seven Stories Press; ISBN 978-1583229187)
    • Elliot Liebow: Tell Them Who I Am: Lives of Homeless Women (1995, Penguin; 978-0140241372)
    • Deborah Connolly: Homeless Mothers: Face to Face with Women and Poverty (2002, Univ of Minnesota; ISBN 978-0816632824)
    • Mitchell Duneier: Sidewalk (2000, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 978-0374527259)
    • Forrest Stuart: Down, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row  (2016, Chicago; ISBN: 978-0226566207)
    • Jason Wasserman & Jeffrey Clair: At Home on the Street: People, Poverty, and a Hidden Culture of Homelessness (2009, Lynne Rienner; 978-1588267016)

“B”– ONE (history):

    • Kenneth Kusmer: Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History  (2002, Oxford; ISBN 978-0195160963)
    • Kim Hopper: Reckoning With Homelessness (2003, Cornell; ISBN: 978-0801488344)
    • Matthew Desmond: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016, Broadway Books; ISBN: 978-0553447453)

“B”– TWO (policy): 

    • Deborah Padgett et alHousing First: Ending Homelessness, Transforming Systems, and Changing Lives.  (2016, Oxford; ISBN: 978-0199989805)
    • Sasha Abramsky: The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (2013, Nation Books; ISBN: 978-1568584607)
    • Andrew Heben: Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages(2014, Village Collaborative; ISBN: 978-0692248058)
      Last year,  the bookstore had trouble getting this book, so you might try the author’s website . Or you can buy it at Powell’s Books or read a copy on Library Reserve.


  • Irene Glasser & Rae Bridgman: Braving the Street: The Anthropology of Homelessness (1999, Berghahn Books; ISBN 978-1571810977)

This is an excellent summary of what was written about homelessness through the late 1990s.  That era saw many excellent research projects and transformed our understanding of homelessness as a social phenomenon.  It is, however, now a bit dated.  This and Gowan’s book (next below) provide a very clear grounding in anthropological approaches to homelessness.

We will read a couple of chapters from this book on Library Reserve.

  • Teresa Gowan: Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco (2010, Univ of Minnesota; ISBN: 978-0816669677)

This is a wonderful book.  Its second chapter is one of the best analyses I’ve ever read about how different ways of thinking and speaking about homelessness have consequences for social policy, for charity, and for street life.  It is, however, a bit too dense for typical undergraduates.  Read for extra credit if you wish.

  • Craig Willse: The Value of Homelessness: Managing Surplus Life in the United States(2015, Univ of Minnesota; ISBN: 978-0816693481)

This is an important book that contains information about recent developments in what the author (rightly) calls “the homeless management industry”.  It is, however, highly ideological and almost unreadable — albeit valuable.  Undergraduate students who want to read it should ask for guidance about which sections to read and which to avoid.

Good books we’ve used in past semesters:

  • Jessica Morrell: Voices from the Street (2007, Gray Sunshine; 978-0976926160)
    The bookstore has trouble getting this book.  Buy it at Powells or read a copy on Library Reserve.(The book supports the Sisters of the Road Café in Portland, Oregon.  You can write them for a copy.)
  • Kenan Heise: The Book of the Poor: Who They Are, What They Say, and How To End Their Poverty (2011, Marian Street Press;  ISBN 978-1936863334)
  • Kathryn Eden & Luke Schaefer: $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2015: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 978-0544303188)
  • Daniel Kerr: Derelict Paradise: Homelessness and Urban Development in Cleveland, Ohio (2011: U. Mass: ISBN 978-1558498495)
  • James Wright et al.  Beside the Golden Door: Policy, Politics, and the Homeless  (1998: Aldine; ISBN 978-0202306148)
  • Ingred Gould Ellen & Brendan O’Flaherty, eds. How to House the Homeless (2010, Russell Sage; 978-0871544544)  [just the intro & essays on housing policy]
  • Donald W. Burnes & David L. DiLeo, eds: Ending Homelessness: Why We Haven’t, How We Can.  (2016: Lynne Reinner; ISBN 978-1-6263-7507-9)