Homelessness Alcohol And Other Drugs History Of The word

homeless has a long and complex use. In its most literal meaning of houseless, it has been employed since the mid-1800s to describe those who have slept outdoors or in various makeshifts, or who resided in temporary accommodations like the police-station lodgings of earlier generations or the emergency shelters of the present day. Another early meaning of the word draws upon the absence of a sense of belonging to a place and with the people who live there. This usage was handed down from the largely rural and small-town society of the nineteenth century, in which the coincidence of family and place provided the basis for community and social order, nurturing traditions of mutual aid and the control of troublesome behavior. To be homeless was to be "unattached," outside this web of support and control; it was to be without critical resources and, equally important, beyond constructive restraint. Many of the young men and women who moved from farm to city, or those who emigrated during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were unattached in this respect. Organizations like the YWCA, and YMCA, and various ethnic mutual-aid societies were invented both to help and superintend them by creating surrogate social ties.

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