Paradise is Santa Barbara, California, where in the early 1980s the beautiful, affluent city faced the problem of what to do with all the 'street people'. Rob Rosenthal worked with the Homeless People's Project in Santa Barbara and has documented his experiences with forty-four oral histories and numerous interviews. His portraits challenge the traditional view of the homeless as 'slackers', hopeless victims, and loners. Instead, he portrays active agents attempting to preserve networks and obtain resources essential for managing and escaping homelessness. Emphasizing that one cannot understand individual homelessness without understanding its social roots, Rosenthal traces how people lose their homes, how they acquire the street knowledge to survive, and how they develop affiliations with each other and with housed people and mainstream institutions. People do not willingly choose homelessness, he argues. "Homeless in Paradise" carries with it a stinging indictment of irrational federal policies that intensify the problems of poverty, unemployment, and lack of human services.
Rosenthal proposes a number of ways to deal with homelessness on federal, state, and local levels, contending that if we can understand how the nightmare of homelessness can exist in Paradise, we might have a better idea of what might be done about it elsewhere. Author note: Rob Rosenthal is Associate Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University. For five years, he conducted the Homeless People's Project in Santa Barbara, California.
Publisher: Temple University Press,U.S.