What remains clear to many, however, is that individual action by a provider, while deeply inspiring, is a strategy of limited success. The contemporary wave of U.S. homelessness has proven to be enduring and complex. Its persistence has been accompanied by the gradual evolution of a system of service that may stimulate our thinking about how we can best continue to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
In past waves of homelessness, the moral imperative of responding to people in desperate circumstances has prevailed. Charity, church, kin, and compassion often did more to redress homelessness than civic administration. But in the face of complex contemporary homelessness, the force of government legislation, policy, and financial resources continue to be at the frontlines of our expectations and approaches to solve this crisis.