Left Out in the Cold

With winter approaching, the ranks of the homeless swell

People with nothing much to do and no fixed address—hobos, drifters, tramps—used to seem almost romantic: accountable to none, their lives serendipitous and free. The truth, of course, has always been different. Rootlessness is usually endured, rarely chosen. "Knowing you don't have a place to live, the stark realization . . . it hurts," says Rose Harmon of Chicago, who has had no real home since 1978. But today in the U.S., instead of a few vagabonds here and there, legions of people are homeless, shuffling and stumbling over the national landscape. Indeed,...

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