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Landscapes of Despair

Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness

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  • Book Info
    Landscapes of Despair
    Book Description:

    Michael Dear and Jennifer Wolch examine the emergence of urban ghettos of the socially dependent--an unforeseen "solution" to the problem of developing community-based care for a variety of service-dependent groups, including the mentally and physically disabled, ex-offenders, and addicts. Based on detailed case studies drawn from several cities in Canada and the United States, Landscapes of Despair is a comprehensive analysis of these ghettos.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5896-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    M. J. Dear and J. R. Wolch

    • 1 Service-dependent populations in the city
      (pp. 3-7)

      In the 1960s and 1970s, the deinstitutionalization movement was translated from philosophy into a tangible social program. It represented a well-intentioned effort to remove the mentally disabled, physically handicapped, mentally retarded, prisoners and other dependent groups from asylums and similar places of incarceration, in order to place them in community settings. For most groups, this policy represented a fundamental change in practices that had been in place since the early nineteenth century.¹

      It is a major part of our purpose to explain why things went wrong with deinstitutionalization.It is not our intention to argue against deinstitutionalization, or for reinstitutionalization;...

    • 2 The social construction of the service-dependent ghetto
      (pp. 8-27)

      The patterns of everyday life sometimes appear to be deceptively simple. The impetus for this book, for example, derives from the now-familiar observation of the ghettoization of ex-psychiatric patients in the inner city. Yet a knowledgeable observer might quickly surmise that ghettoization is a complex phenomenon – the result of a wide range of forces, including aspects of supply and demand for housing. For instance, on the supply side, in the inner city there are large properties available for conversion to group homes; an established supply of transient rental accommodations like single-room occupancy hotels; and established support networks (both of...

    • 3 The social history of service-dependency
      (pp. 28-68)

      Over the course of the past century, there have been radical changes in the social construction of service-dependency and in the manner in which services are provided. In a departure from nineteenth-century notions of the elderly, physically infirm and mentally disabled as being deviant, dangerous and a drain on collective resources, the service-dependent population has increasingly been viewed as worthy of support and as an integral part of the urban community. Similarly, support services targeted at the dependent have been dramatically transformed, shifting from confinement in large, repressive institutions segregated from society, towards a model of service delivery in which...


    • 4 The geography of haunted places
      (pp. 71-109)

      The challenge posed in Part I of this book is daunting. It proposes linking the lives of homeless individuals in today’s urban core with two centuries of social welfare evolution in North America. This challenge, and the problems it poses, are unavoidable. Our narrative necessarily measures human lives and mundane routines against the backdrop of great events on a continental scale. In this chapter, we explore how thelongue dureéof welfare policy ultimately found expression as a service-dependent ghetto in Toronto, Ontario. Four aspects of thelongue dureéare examined:

      1 the growth of social welfare in nineteenth-century Ontario,...

    • 5 Anatomy of the service-dependent ghetto
      (pp. 110-138)

      The modern-day service-dependent ghetto has transformed the inner city into a ‘coping mechanism’ for service-dependent populations, including the recently discharged. Here, in an asylum without walls, the service-dependent are able to link up with a rudimentary social network that provides friendship, support and guidance. What does the ghetto look like? Who lives there? In this chapter, we examine the structure of the modern ghetto in one city. We focus on Hamilton, Ontario a city of just over 300,000 in a metropolitan area of half-a-million people. Hamilton has the advantage of being relatively simple in terms of its physical, economic and...

    • 6 Dismantling the community-based human-services system
      (pp. 139-168)

      In the preceding chapters we have seen how service-dependent populations have become ghettoized in a particular urban setting. In many North American cities, the ghetto still flourishes as an integral component of the social and physical landscape. In other cities however, a new stage in the historical evolution of the ghetto is already unfolding. In this chapter, we turn attention to the case of San Jose in California, where a rapid and catastrophic destruction of the service-dependent ghetto was recently achieved.

      The City of San Jose is located in Santa Clara County, California. There, the goal of downtown gentrification and...

    • 7 Homelessness and the retreat to institutions
      (pp. 169-192)

      The professional and public commitment to community-based care philosophy that has guided human-service delivery policy for the last three decades may be waning, just at a time when such commitment is needed to make the necessary adjustments to the deinstitutionalization process. Some experts now acknowledge, albeit reluctantly, that community care is an ideal that may never be fully realized in practice. Community service advocates, spurred by genuine concern over the worsening plight of the dependent populations, are enjoying a renewed public interest in their efforts. Yet simultaneously, there are significant signs of retrenchment from community care theory and practice. The...


    • 8 From homelessness to deinstitutionalization: closing the circle
      (pp. 195-204)

      Homelessness is a symbol of that part of the deinstitutionalization process which failed. As pointed out in the academic literature and the popular press, gross inadequacies in the quality and availability of primary support services face those now residing outside institutions – from the mentally disabled to ex-offenders and the retarded.¹ A combination of factors now threatens a return to the institution. Yet we believe that deinstitutionalization was, and is, a worthwhile goal. In the closing chapters of this book, we outline planning principles that could move usfrom homeless to deinstitutionalization– that is, to complete the process of...

    • 9 Community politics and the planning of human services
      (pp. 205-246)

      As we have documented in previous chapters, the most troubling and common locational outcomes of deinstitutionalization have been the ghettoization of service-dependent and homeless populations in decaying central-city areas and the subsequent dismantling of these ghettos in the face of gentrification and urban renewal. In ghetto environments, access to treatment resources may be greater (Davidson, 1982) and clients may be able to become part of developing coping networks. But opportunities for social integration within the everyday community are restricted as client interpersonal contacts become confined to service providers and others involved in the coping networks (Hull and Thompson, 1981). In...

    • 10 The view from the future
      (pp. 247-257)

      This book began by exploring the central question about the service-dependent ghetto: what set of social forces could have produced this particular urban form? The roots of the ghetto, we have argued, are to be found in the processes of urbanization and the Welfare State. Contemporary North American cities have developed a distinctive spatial structure that includes an inner-city zone of transition, the incipient service-dependent ghetto. This was a deteriorated area of inexpensive accommodation for transients, unemployed, social outcasts and the disabled and it remains a continuing phenomenon of modern cities. Since World War II, the zone of transition has...