An American Tale: the residential origins of Florida’s homeless

by Fiona Ferbrache

Yesterday, 4th July, marked National Independence Day for the United States; a day commemorating independence of the US from Great Britain in 1776.  Throughout the US, and elsewhere around the world, Independence Day is celebrated with feasting, music and patriotic parades that reinforce the imagined sense of nation and community (see DA France Toulouse Independence Day Party, 2011, National Independence Day Parade, 2011).  By waving flags, singing anthems and eating certain foods, many Americans use these national symbols to celebrate their nation’s story, cultural values and freedoms.

With Independence Day fresh in our minds, I have chosen to present an article by Rukmana (2011), an American-based academic, which draws upon research undertaken in the US.  Rukmana’s paper deals with homelessness in Florida and compares residential origins of homeless families and homeless individuals.  The article is fundamentally geographic in that it deals with the spatial distribution of residential origins and subsequent patterns of movement engaged by homeless persons.  Drawing from these patterns, Rukmana identifies statistically significant differences between homeless individuals and homeless families.  This paper indicates some of the potential patterns that major cities and regions might anticipate among their homeless populations, thus helping to inform the design and implementation of homeless prevention and management programmes.

With Independence Day representing a fine opportunity to observe people reproducing American’s myths and symbols, I wonder to what extent these homeless persons feel themselves to be, or are perceived to be, part of America’s “imagined community”?

DA France Toulouse Independence Day Party (2011) Democrats Abroad.

National Independence Day Parade (2011) Marching.com

Rukmana, D. (2011) Comparing the residential origins of homeless families and homeless individuals in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Area. 43.1, pp.96-109

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