Not Gone, but Forgotten?

Why Americans have stopped talking about homelessness

A few minutes into his Inaugural Address, on Jan. 20, 1989, George Bush--a Republican President often derided for his inattention to domestic problems--looked out at the crowd and declared, "My friends, we have work to do." The first task: helping "the homeless, lost and roaming." Ten years later, Bill Clinton--a Democratic President often praised for his acuity on social issues--delivered his seventh State of the Union address. In the course of 77 min. and 99 proposals, Clinton didn't offer any plans to combat homelessness. He never even brought it up.

What has become of this once pressing issue? In the 1980s...

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