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Campus Compact > Syllabi > By an Ehrlich Award Recipient or Finalist > Poverty and Homelessness in America

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Poverty and Homelessness in America

School: Stanford University
Professor: Albert Camarillo, Ph.D.

Course Description
This two quarter course will combine formal academic study on the topic of poverty and homelessness in the United States with an internship experience in a shelter-providing agency either in Santa Clara County or San Mateo County. Students will read weekly selections of articles and books relating to analyses of and personal experiences with poverty and homelessness in American cities. Perhaps the most important part of the course is the internship each student will be involved in at a local homeless shelter. Students will engage in a directed social service-type internship and will be expected to devote about 10 hours per week, on average, at a designated shelter site.

The formal course of study is limited to the Winter quarter, but the internship will extend into the Spring quarter with three units of credit for History 251B. The class will meet about three times during the Spring quarter. Robert Gitin, a former student in the course, will serve as course assistant and as internship placement coordinator.

Required Readings

Peter H. Rossi, DOWN AND OUT IN AMERICA: THE ORIGINS OF HOMELESSNESS

Michael B. Katz, THE UNDESERVING POOR: FROM THE WAR ON POVERTY TO THE WAR ON WELFARE

Jonathan Kozol, RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN-HOMELESS FAMILIES IN AMERICA

Elliot Liebow, TELL THEM WHO I AM: THE LIVES OF HOMELESS WOMEN

course reader (includes 20 articles, essays, or book chs.)

Course Requirements
Students must commit to the internship over the Winter and Spring quarters. Formal orientation sessions with shelter agency staff, who will direct the internship placements, will be scheduled during the first two weeks of the Winter quarter.

Writing requirements in the course include the following. An interim report that analyzes your internship experience in relation to the required readings will be due at the end of the Winter quarter. Students will also be required to keep a personal journal of their internship experiences on a weekly basis; the journals will be submitted at the end of each quarter. A final report on the internship is due at the end of Spring quarter. Those who wish to take the course for a letter grade will also be required to write an 8 to 10 page paper reviewing selected required readings. Students who opt not to receive a formal letter grade will be graded on a Pass/NC basis.

Description of Shelter Agencies
Most students will be placed in internships at shelters administered by the Emergency Housing Consortium (EHC) and the Shelter Network of San Mateo County. The EHC and SHSMC are nonprofit organizations providing shelter services for homeless individuals and families throughout Santa Clara County and San Mateo County. These agencies operate shelters for families and offer programs of transitional housing, a teen drop-in center/outreach program, and temporary emergency shelters. Both organizations strive to enable homeless people to achieve their goal of obtaining adequate, affordable housing. In addition to providing emergency and transitional housing, both agencies offer training, workshops, meals, clothing, child care, and other services and support (either directly or in cooperation with other public and private sector agencies) . Each shelter is managed by a director or a general manager and other staff.

Other shelter programs may host Stanford interns in 1996-97.

Internship coordinator, Robert Gitin, will be responsible for handling all arrangements for student placements in agencies.

Expectations for Students
Students will gain an understanding of the nature of poverty and homelessness from readings and class discussions and from an experience working with homeless -families or individuals within the organizational structure of ongoing shelter programs. Students will develop valuable professional and personal skills through their internship experiences and will contribute in fundamental ways to public service oriented to one of the most disadvantaged sectors in American society.

Weekly Schedule of Readings
Weekly sessions will revolve around several central questions. What are the historical and contemporary conditions that cause homelessness among individuals and families? How do people cope with homelessness and how can they escape dire poverty? What are the roles for individuals and institutions for ending homelessness? What are the short-term and long-run effects of homelessness on individuals and the society at large? Which policies work and which don't work effectively to combat homelessness? These questions are as critical for understanding your internship as they are for analyzing the literature. We will continually ask these questions throughout the quarter.

The required readings below which are marked with an asterisk are included in the course reader.

*Parker Palmer, "Community, Conflict, and Ways of Knowing," Combining Service and Learning, Vol. 1, 1990

*Keith Morton, "The Irony of Service: Charity, Project, and Social Change in Service-Learning," Michigian Journal of Community Service Learning Fall 1995

*Paul Koegel, et. al., 'The Causes of Homelessness," in Jim Baumohl, ed., Homelessness in America, 1996

*Kenneth Kusmer, "The Underclass in Historical Perspective: Tramps and Vagrants in Urban America, 1870-1930," On Being Homeless: Historical Perspectives 1987

*Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives, pp. 32-50, 106-119, 187-197

*Michael Harrington, "Uprooted," chapter 5 in The New American Poverty, 1984

*"Recent Efforts to Address Homelessness," and "Recommendations for New Policy Initiatives and Agency Action Steps," in Priority: Home! The Federal Plan to Break the Cycle of Homelessness 1993, pp. 67-97

*Vicki Watson, "Responses by the States to Homelessness," in Jim Baumohl, ed., Homelessness in America, 1996

*Maria Foscarinis, "The Federal Response: The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act," in Jim Baumohl, ed., Homelessness in Amenca, 1996

*Homelessness in the Bay Area: Transform Basic Causes-Meet Human Needs, A Homebase Report, 1994 photocopies of articles from local newspapers (hand outs)

*Ken Libertoff, "The Runaway Child in American: A Social History," Journal of Family Issues, June 1980

*"Homeless Teenagers" and chapter on "Children" from the Stanford Study of Homeless Families, Children, and Youth (draft manuscript)

*Yvonne Rafferty, "Developmental and Educational Consequences of Homelessness on Children and Youth," in Julee Kryder-Coe, et al., Homeless Children and Youth

*Charles Murray, Losing Ground, 1984, chs. 16 & 17

*David Ellwood, "Values and The Helping Conundrums," Poor Support, 1988, ch. 2

*Williarn J. Wilson, "The Hidden Agenda," The Truly Disadvantaged, ch. 7

*Cushing Dolbeare, "Housing Policy: A General Consideration," in Jim Baumohl, ed., Homelessness in America, 1996

*Eric Lindblom, "Preventing Homelessness," in Jim Baumohl, ed., Homelessness in America, 1996

*Christopher Jencks, The Homeless, 1994, ch. 10 & 11

*Robert Coles, "Young Idealism," The Call to Service

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
The following writing requirements are due on the first day of winter quarter examinations (March 17). The assignments should be turned into History Department staff who win place the papers in my mailbox (do not leave papers in the bins next to the History Dept. front office counter).

I. Internship Interim Rellort (required) – This report will describe your experiences during the first half of your internship placement. The report should include a brief description of the internship site, the services rendered, and the people served. The report should also describe your responsibilities as an intern as well as the problems and challenges you encountered during the first three months. The final section of the report (about 3-4 pages) should include a discussion of how your internship experiences related or did not relate to topics and issues raised in some of the required readings (be explicit about which readings). The report should be approximately 7 to 9 pages in length doubled spaced.

II. Personal Journals (required) – Each student will submit his/her journal with the internship interim report. I will return the journals to you at the beginning of spring quarter. Everyone is expected to make systematic, weekly entries into their joumals, recording the reflections on and descriptions of the internship experiences on an ongoing basis. The journals will be continued throughout the spring quarter. Please record your entries on a computer and submit the journal on a diskette with the file name and the software program indicated on the label. There is no prescribed format for the journal entries. The journals, first and foremost, serve as a record of your experiences at particular moments in time and are valuable documents that will capture your thoughts and reflections as the internship experience unfolds.

III. Review of the Literature Essays
Those of you who opt for a letter grade in the course are required to write an essay of 8 to 10 pages in length drawing from selected required readings. You may choose to write your essay on ONE of the following questions.

1) Compare and contrast the experiences of poverty among selected individuals (two or three examples from each book will suffice) described in Kozol's RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN and in Liebow's TELL THEM WHO I AM. What are the critical factors which account for their poverty and homelessness? How different or similar are the lives of the people as portrayed in each book? Consider in your comparative analysis "structural" versus "individual" factors which may help explain their poverties.

2)Using the Michael Katz book, THE UNDESERVING POOR, as the backdrop for understanding the ideological and political debates over welfare reform since the 1960s, critique the policy-related conclusions offered by William J. Wilson and Charles Murray (chapters of their respective books are included in the course reader). Using two or more articles published in periodical literature regarding the federal government's recently revised welfare policies, suggest how the Wilsonian and Muffayian conceptions of poverty and welfare figure into the reformed welfare policies.

3) Among the many policies discussed by various authors (from the required reading lists of the course from weeks 4 and 8), identify what you consider the two most important policy directions that may help alleviate homelessness (and poverty). Explain why you selected these two policy areas over others.

I learned to expect more from higher education. Higher education institutions need to prepare young people to become active citizens, not just successful professionals."

-Summer Stowe-Johnson, Oklahoma State University, Campus Compact student leader