Before the widespread adoption of the term “homeless” to refer to people who do not have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (42 U.S.C. § 11301, et seq. 1994), a variety of different terms were used to describe this population of people. These terms included “bums,” “vagrants,” “tramps,” and “transients” or “gypsies.” In this 1966 packet of information gathered and presented by the Community Council of Austin & Travis County, “transients” is the term of choice. This packet was developed because Caritas, the local office of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Austin, asked for admission to the United Fund, and the Council needed to demonstrate that Caritas provided the necessary services to qualify.
The packet lists and describes various agencies and services available for transients and “non-residents,” or those people who had either just moved to Austin or are passing through and need temporary accommodation. Amongst these agencies was the Salvation Army, which, in 1966, provided “dormitory space for 38 men and four beds…for families or single women.” (2) However, the Salvation Army’s policy at the time was that transients could only stay in their lodging for one night every three months, except in special cases where exceptions were made.