Rachel And Her Children Book Reviews Examples
Rachel and Her children: Homeless families in America, written by Johnathan Kozal, is an insightful account of America’s homeless people. The book takes a reader inside the dark and ugly lanes of the most bustled and glitz city of New York, despite the longest economic expansion in American history. It leaves reader awestruck for such pathetic conditions of homeless people amidst the most developed nation. This book which was published in 1988 is based on anecdotes enmeshed in facts and statistics. There are many stories mired into the same strand of homelessness. Johnathan Kozal describes the grim situation of homeless people of America in an eloquent way and argues that the dysfunctional policies of state are responsible for the plight of homelessness.
He mentions about the Martinique Hotel, government subsidised shelter for homeless, where multitude of problems have risen due to the malfunctioning of state policies. Martinique is one among many other shelters which accommodate homeless people and provide them food. But, the living conditions are miserable and the Govt. arbitrarily encourages the shelter homes by facilitations, instead of supporting the homeless by cutting down the rents (Phelan, and Link, Bruce, 1999). The Govt. is busy in serving the rich by incentivising the corporate houses. Meanwhile poverty driven people are neglected and pacified by mere shelters that too without basic amenities. These are crumbling block in the welfare of the society. There is policy lapse on the face of upliftment of poor. There are poorest people dwelling in the shelters who cannot afford to buy food or medicines.
The thematic question which revolves around the book is Why are there so many people homeless in America?
As per the book, deciding factor of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing ,the participating factors could be family breakdown, alcoholism, drug addiction, heath conditions, teen pregnancies and poverty culture but the due to the skyrocketing rents which leaves one homeless and makes them underclass in the society. The escalating rents ensue condominium conversions. The homeless people of America are engulfed into many awful conditions which often take toll on their health. Mostly, they are depressed and trapped into drug addiction which further entails the threats of homelessness. They are the people who have usually been abandoned by the family due to loss of job.
This book stills holds water in present context, where the problem of homelessness still lingers and fester the children’s over all development because the homeless child is most vulnerable to LD (Lack of Development). Even in day care centres they are not attended well because the teachers often feel these children will anyhow have to move out.
There are certain programmes that were meant to provide the homeless people with certain hopes but, these policies have undergone substantial change over the past few decades (Popkin, 2004). For example, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 announced time constraints and job requirements to get benefit. The book discusses various causes of homelessness like the evidences that shows the enactment of the welfare restructuring stemmed in increased cases of homelessness among the welfare leavers; nonetheless the percentage is very less that confer that there is limited protective cover offered by the welfare reform (Loprest 1999, Institute for Family and Social Responsibility 2000, and Bloom, Farrell and Fink, 2002). Also, poor mental and general health conditions, disturbed marriage and broken families etc. might generate homelessness and disturbs the social and political structure of the immediate society.
One of the eye-opening nuances exposed by the author is the vulnerability of the homeless children to get indulged in the criminal activities. Children living on the streets are more prone to get felonious exposure that can affect their cognitive development. The author illustrates the whole picture on the American society canvas that reflects the emergence of accountability by the government and other public institutions to construct a positive sphere for the development of the community. What is being portrayed by the government statistics has many flaws associated with it because the government bodies deal very differently with certain sections of the homeless community like immigrants need to possess a legal licence to live in a permanent home. On the other hand, there exist certain demands among the homeless people including their job or other sources of income. Such contours construct a reflective image of the [immature] American society though developed economically. Also, at time if the people are provided with shelters, they began to do business with it in order to meet their daily demands and needs. The whole community and the overall conception of the homelessness is to be addressed with a fair structure that can form a solid base for the marginalised people who are suffering physically, mentally and socially. There is a vital need of developing or reforming the existing policies for the development and upliftment of the homeless community.
Homeless population continues to escalate due to the economic and social inequalities entrenched in to system. The complex social forces drive the people to give up their homes and live on streets and shelters to leverage off the expenses. Few examples from the book depicts the worsening situation of homeless people like one father in San Antonia who sells blood plasma to feed his children, and his wife who loses her mental balance due to her husband’s loss of job. Another example of a woman, 35, who sleeps on the Miami beaches because she lost her job due to her deteriorating health and eventually loses her house. One can infer from the different accounts of different people, mentioned in the book, how the heath care fails in providing assistance to the wellbeing of people. It is quite evident from the reports that the primary health care centres are not accessible and fruitful for underclass and unemployed people (Quigley, John, Raphael, Steven, and Smolensky, Eugene. 2001). New health care schemes might be effective but for upper class and employed youth who are able to pay the reimbursements on time.
With time, the perception of Homelessness has changed as there are plethora of people living and thriving on the streets and shelters of New York. They don’t mind to continue their rest of life in such circumstances. It seems overreaching for them to even think their own permanent shelter. The homelessness has induced the sense of permanency in temporary shelter dwellers. They are more acclimatized with the state provided rented accommodation.
Many individual factors are responsible for homelessness which are more proactive than structural limitations present in the American society. For instance, deteriorating health and general education, residential mobility, and domestic violence vitally escalate the chances of homelessness. Such situation witness apparent existence, despite there is city-level fluctuations in local health, shelter availability, and anti-loitering regulations etcetera. However, there are certain considerations that could lower the cases of homelessness that include family support, public housing, socio-economic support to increase housing affordability etcetera, such factors lessen the frequency of homelessness by keeping the structural factors persistent.
As per recent reports there are more vacant houses than homeless people, in the city of New York. This disparity eludes the sheer lack of economic policies crafted in the name of welfare of the society. These vacant houses could have been leased by Govt. for housing the poor and underclass. The rent which the homeless people pay in shelters could be utilised for betterment of life. In shelter homes the children often fall prey to sex predators who often roam around such overcrowded places. Imparting proper education could save the homeless children from drug addiction and alcoholism. The state policies which are just catering the desires of rich need to be little alert of the consequences of the partiality. Moreover, there should a systematic and authentic approach by the administration and authorities to check the increase of homelessness within the realm of American society.
Bloom, Dan, Farrell, Mary, and Fink, Barbara. 2002. Welfare Time Limits. Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.
Phelan, Jo C., and Link, Bruce G. 1999. “Who Are ‘the Homeless’? Reconsidering the Stability and Composition of the Homeless Population,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 89, No. 9.
Popkin, S. 2004. How are Families from America’s Worst Public Housing Faring? The Urban Institute. Washington, DC.
Quigley, John M., Raphael, Steven, and Smolensky, Eugene. 2001. “Homelessness in America, Homelessness in California,” The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 83, No. 1.
Loprest, Pamela J. 1999. How Families That Left Welfare Are Doing: A National Picture. The Urban Institute. Washington, DC.
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