Homelessness is a complex problem replete with profound social distress and suffering, but with few adequate solutions. The homeless are a marginalized population particularly vulnerable to structural forces and policy decisions, including lack of affordable housing, unemployment, systemic inequalities, and lack of adequate social safety net. Perspectives of homeless people are understudied in anthropological scholarship which tends to focus on service providers, with comparatively less attention on homeless people themselves who are commonly subjected to medicalizing and criminalizing discourses. Using ethnographic research methods, including participant-observation and interviews with homeless people who pursue food pantry services at Hope Helps NGO in Oviedo, Florida, this paper examines the experiences of homeless people in Florida, where the issue of homelessness has been acute and is often depoliticized in public discourses. Specifically , it focuses on coping strategies of homeless people in Oviedo, and ways in which they understand their life circumstances and secure necessary services. Findings demonstrate that the Florida homeless view reasons for their homelessness as primarily economic, but rarely critique policies behind low wages or unaffordable housing. The narratives also show that the homeless in this study obtain resources through networking, and despite use of assistance services, view themselves as independent, active agents. Results of this research have potential to improve the way social services for the homeless are structured, and to inform policy relevant to homeless in Florida. Furthermore, this research brings attention to a marginalized problem and population, and considers how particular discourses function to maintain a structurally inadequate system.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Young, Rebecca, "Perceptions of Homelessness and Strategies for Receiving Services Among the Florida Homeless" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1629.