Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Homelessness in America

Instructor: Elizabeth Hines

A homeless person sleeping in an alley

This seminar examines all aspects of the local and national homeless population, including causes of, services for, and the temporary and chronic conditions of homelessness. Homelessness in the United States has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. Therefore, this seminar must also explore the political and economic aspects of homelessness and the proposed solutions, which include first and foremost, affordable housing and services, as many homeless people are mentally ill and/or substance abusers. Others are merely "houseless," as a result of inadequate affordable housing.

The class will include a geographical examination of origination areas of and destinations for homeless people. For example, Wilmington was found to be a destination by the recent HUD-mandated "Point-in-time" count. Origination areas of Wilmington's homeless population range across the United States, although many come from the Northeast in the winter. Wilmington's social service agencies and charities and its many "low-end, service sector" jobs make it attractive year-round to mobile homeless people.

The seed of this course stems from my work with Sharon Bundick on her excellent GLS final project on the subject. My interest has grown through participation with Southeastern North Carolina's homelessness service providers. I am a member of the Transition to Independence sub-committee of Wilmington's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness and, through this, have become familiar with the local and national homelessness predicament and interested promoting and conducting more research on the phenomenon.

In addition to lectures, professionals in the homeless and mental health service sectors will visit and field trips to service agencies will occur. Students will conduct and present their research on homelessness issues. Readings will include: Down and Out in America, Peter Rossi; The Homeless, Christopher Jencks; How to Increase Homelessness, Joel John Roberts; and selected articles from the historic and current scholastic and popular literature.

Image obtained from and with the permission of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.

Last Update: February 6, 2017