The Homeless Man and Law Enforcement Agencies

AuthorIrving W. Shandler,Leonard Blumberg,Thomas E. Shipley
Published date01 April 1965
Date01 April 1965
Subject MatterArticles
LEONARD BLUMBERG, Department of Sociology, Temple University
THOMAS E. SHIPLEY, JR., Department of Psychology, Temple University
IRVING W. SHANDLER, Executive Director, Philadelphia Diagnostic and
Relocation Center
THIS PAPER is about the homeless skid row man. It will
discuss briefly some of the characteristics of skid row men and their
contacts with law enforcement agencies.’
There is reason to believe that a substantial proportion of those
born in indigent families tend to remain indigent throughout their lives.
In civic practice, there is a tendency to treat the indigent in a similar
manner. The behavior of indigent persons tends to be similar. There is
some justification for the description of the way of life of the indigent as
a &dquo;culture of poverty,&dquo; although how the indigent came to that condition
may vary. However, a closer inspection suggests that there are several
sub-classes of indigent persons that differ in important respects. On the
one hand, there is the relatively intact family of a man, woman, and their
children. There is the &dquo;man-less&dquo; family of a woman and her children.
She is not always the mother of all the children. Sometimes she is an
aunt, or a grandmother, or occasionally a non-relative who has &dquo;taken
the children in&dquo; after they have been abandoned. Finally, there is the
homeless indigent skid row man, who is the subject of the present
Skid Row and Skid Row Men
Skid row is located in a marginal area adjacent to the central busi-
ness district of all large American cities. It is an area of cheap housing,
1 See the larger report: The Men on Skid Row (Philadelphia, 1960: The
Greater Philadelphia Movement, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of
Philadelphia, and the Department of Psychiatry of the Temple University School
of Medicine). The authors are indebted to Francis H. Hoffman, Victor J. Lo-
Cicero, Herman Niebuhr, and James Rooney, all of whom contributed to that
report. It is interesting to note that the Pennsylvania Prison Society in 1956 issued
a report entitled The Homeless Man which was a precursor to the present skid
row program. The data cited in this paper are drawn from general observations
made over the years since the inception of the program of the Diagnostic and
Relocation Center and from a survey conducted in the Philadelphia skid row
early in 1960.
The most oustanding work in the field at present is Donald J. Bogue, Skid
Row in American Cities (Chicago: Community and Family Study Center, 1963).
Cf. A General Report on the Problem of Relocating the Population of the Lower

cheap food, and cheap alcoholic beverages. Nearby are commercial
blood banks, employment agencies for unskilled day labor, and relatively
heavy pedestrian traffic (which can be panhandled). Not too far away
is a public park. Nearby is cheap mass transportation. In the area are
one or more charitable institutions -
gospel missions -
that serve food,
conduct religious services, and often provide free lodging for the most
destitute. Skid row is a service area. It draws most of its population from
the entire metropolitan region. It also serves the needs of indigent tran-
sients. Some of these transients are on their way through, and some of
them, having arrived, will probably stay. By this we do not mean to
convey the impression that skid row is an area of completely segregated
land used in servicing its segregated population. For this is not the case.
Skid row is a general term to describe the area insofar as its client popu-
lation is concerned. But the area actually has mixed commercial and
light industrial uses, as well as recreational uses. There are, therefore,
several populations that inhabit...

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