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"Homeless In Lancaster" (Ethnography Of A Subculture)

4447 words - 18 pages

(Prompt) - Objective - Write an ethnography outlining a culture or subculture of local people in the area you live.My Observation, Research, and Field Work of the homeless culture in Lancaster CA.Ethnography Essay 418 May 2005Homeless in LancasterThe homeless in Lancaster have a face, a name, and an identity. At any point in time these people are still someone's mother, daughter, father, sister, son, husband or wife. People are quick to make assumptions when they see these people living on the fringes of survival. Some may look on in disgust or pity, pass judgment based on mainstream beliefs, or worse refuse to acknowledge that another fellow human being is suffering right before their very eyes. Once a person has hit the bottom of homelessness, they say, without family support, their life chances to actually make it back above the poverty line are next to none.According to a summary report given to the governor in the year 2000, on any given day in the state of California 361,000 people are homeless.(www.sen.ca.gov) Because Lancaster encompasses both the city and rural areas, there are no concrete statistics for the number of homeless in this community. It is difficult to comprise accurate statistical numbers, because many homeless people have found ingenious ways to survive without community support or shelter assistance and do not come forward to be counted. A recent UCLA study revealed the current estimate for the number of homeless in the Antelope Valley is 4,500 - 6000 people per month.(Foster, L. and Patricia Snowdown. 2004) This study also admits that that actual number in reality is three to six times higher than the census estimate.It is important to note that the government assistance programs define homeless as, not having a fixed address or a place to sleep. There are a wide range of extremes within the term defined as homeless. Not having a place to stay for a night or two, periodically homeless, and chronically homeless for years, all fall under the same definition. A person can be considered homeless if they live on the street, in makeshift houses or tents, a car, abandoned buildings, a community shelter, emergency transitional living, or domestic violence shelters. Contrary to popular belief the greatest contributing factor for homelessness is the loss or lack of employment. The second contributing factors are disability or mental illness, and the third is a mixture of dual diagnosis - which means chemical dependency combined with mental disorders.After talking with many homeless people in various settings; Grace Resource Center, the Lancaster shelter, St Vincent's community outreach program, and a homeless person who lives in the field across the street from my apartment building, they all say that the community based resources in Lancaster do not adequately assist the growing number of the homeless in this area. Nor is there a final link to transition back into independen self sufficiency. It is almost as if they keep a person...

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