Monday, January 07, 2002

KAUSFILES: Makes the neat point that the amount of people sleeping in homeless shelters in Minneapolis has been going up regardless of whatever else was happening in the economy or with welfare reform. He then gives a warning against the rush to judgement:

Just looking at this chart, it's hard to blame any particular national policy change for the rise in homelessness. The chart does fit with the leftish explanation that blames rising urban rents (since they go up in good times even faster than in bad times). On the other hand, it also fits with the right wing explanation that Say's Law is at work here: as more beds and services are offered to the homeless -- and as their provision becomes routinized and destigmatized -- more people consciously or unconsciously wind up claiming them. ...When you next read about near-middle-class working mothers who drive to suburban food pantries to grab a free load of groceries, remember that without a whole lot more detail about these families, it's impossible to tell whether their emergence supports the first explanation (people are needier) or the second (people are less shamed).

Good stuff.

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