During the past decade a disturbing and largely unexpected new problem has arisen in American cities—the “new homeless.” Homeless derelicts like Radar and Bill would be found in most times and places; indeed, a rich ethnographic literature focusing on skid row was produced in the 1950’s and 1%0’s. But the seemingly sudden appearance of homeless women, children, and whole families on the streets and in the shelters was, in retrospect, a clear signal that something had gone very seriously awry.