A Window into the American Underclass

A woman looks for her tent after registering into a transitional camp for homeless people in San Diego, Calif., in 2017. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Two new books about homeless single mothers help to explain how social dysfunction relates to poverty.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE P overty journalism is a flawed genre. Almost all chroniclers of underclass life are progressives with a deep sense of gratitude to their subjects. Any journalist, if honest, acknowledges the challenge of being truly objective with a source who grants extraordinary access to her personal life. That’s even harder when the source in question is a poor person. But even when they are the work of avowed advocates, journalistic accounts of poverty inform debate by offering a window into the kinds of lives led by those at the lower end of the income spectrum. They thus hold special interest for those

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