Post 1980s

Before the 1980s, in the decades following the New Deal, homelessness was rare and largely isolated to older men in skid row districts of major cities. In his chronicle of American homelessness, historian Kenneth Kusmer says homelessness in the decades following World War II was less common than at any time since the mid-18th century. What changed that wasn’t a sudden upsurge in substance abuse or irresponsibility; it was a brutal confluence of economic trends, the destruction of cheap housing, and Reagan-era austerity.