Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Background Information

The Bowling-green and Marketfield-street, New York, from The Illustrated London News, 23rd August 1845 (engraving)

According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Social Work, homelessness is formally defined by the United States government as when a person “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and if they sleep in a shelter designated for temporary living accommodations or in places not designated for human habitation.” Use the following sources to learn more about homelessness and the political, legal, and social issues surrounding it.

Subject Encyclopedias:
  • Credo Topic Page on Homelessness - Includes a 'mind-map', a summary article from The Encyclopedia of Housing, links to related articles, relevant images, videos, and links to BBC news articles. 
  • Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Family Studies - Provides an overview of the topic addressing definitions, history, and related topics including poverty, sociology of mental health, housing, and class.
  • Encyclopedia of Urban America - Provides a succinct overview of homelessness with American history. See links there to flophouses, skid, row, etc. 
  • Encyclopedia of American Studies - Historical overview with reference to America history; key terms: tramps and hoboes, vagrants and vagabonds, almshouses, skid row, and the New Homeless.  
  • Gale World of Sociology - An overview of the topic from the perspective of Sociology. 
CQ Researcher:


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License