Don’t Give the Homeless Your Sympathy

It doesn’t take more than a stroll down a city street to see that America has a homelessness problem. The guy tucked into in a stained blanket on the bench, the woman pushing a cart filled with everything she owns—from New York to Los Angeles, there are more than half a million people sleeping outside or in some form of transitional housing.
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While this number is lower than it was during the recession, homelessness is still on the rise in many of the country’s major cities. New York City’s homeless population jumped 10 percent over the past year; L.A.’s jumped 12 percent. With housing costs continuing to skyrocket in these cities, there aren’t signs of this trend changing anytime soon.

Has progress been made? Or are more Americans simply bound to find themselves without a bed? In advance of the Zócalo/UCLA event “What Keeps the Homeless Off the Street?”, we asked people who study, write about, and are deeply engaged with the homeless: What have large American cities done that has successfully reduced the number of people living on the streets?