THE HOMELESS Deeply disturbed and enshrouded by myth, many are victims of alcohol, family breakdown -- and well-intentioned social policies gone awry. Most need more than housing to solve their problems.

(FORTUNE Magazine) – WEREN'T these characters supposed to have gone out with the Depression, even with Dickens's London? What are they doing among the suave urban towers of postmodern America, these dirty, disheveled figures, discordantly haunting the era of health clubs, power lunches, and automated teller machines? Who are they -- and what's gone wrong, with them or with the U.S. economy, that we thread our way through increasing numbers of homeless fellow citizens, pitiable or alarming, in the streets, the train and subway stations, even all over Lafayette Park in the shadow of the White House? These questions don't have single, simple answers, for the homeless are not a unified mass but rather several distinct subgroups at the margin of American society. They fell into their plight for different reasons. Many were unintentionally harmed by social policies designed to help them. Others are casualties of the Vietnam war, or of the fraying of America's social fabric over the past two decades, or of economic shifts that have made life at the margin more precarious. With the highest rental housing vacancy rate in 20 years -- 7%, or 2.3 million units nationwide -- you would think the homeless should have no trouble finding places to live. Housing experts theorize that Americans at each income bracket should be shifting up into better housing, leaving the group just below to move into their old units as neatly as an assembly line. Trouble is, it isn't happening, for at the bottom of the line cheap housing is being demolished, gentrified, or abandoned. Atlanta, for instance, has torn down 11 of its 12 single-room-occupancy hotels for new office construction. Urban renewal has swallowed about a third of San Diego's SRO units since 1978. Former residents cannot afford the housing units that are vacant. Downtown Los Angeles's skid row is a microcosm of the whole process, whose driving force is progress and prosperity. For homelessness is in part the painful cost of the otherwise auspicious renewal of the nation's cities. In skid row, now-booming wholesale fish dealers and toy importers who have always been there are expanding from within. From the north, Little Tokyo is encroaching, along with a new state office building to the northwest. From the southwest, a gentrified residential neighborhood is growing, while a huge regional wholesale produce and flower center has opened in the southeast. Down by the river to the east, artists have brightened up a dingy warehouse area and moved in. What once-cheap housing is left is hardly cheap any more. In Los Angeles an SRO room that cost $100 a month in 1980 now costs $200, with the result that some residents live there for two to three weeks each month until their money runs out and then move onto the streets or into emergency shelters for the remainder. Where landlords of such housing can neither raise rents nor gentrify or redevelop, the uneconomically high costs of taxes, fuel, maintenance, and meeting stricter codes often impel them to let it deteriorate into ruin and then abandon it to the tax collector. That's what happened to huge swatches of SRO units in New York City and Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, inability to afford housing isn't the primary problem of many of the homeless. Helping them, therefore, isn't necessarily a matter of providing more shelters or subsidized apartments. To know what they need means first looking at who they are and how, by various routes, they arrived at their common plight.

SEEING that clearly requires groping your way through clouds of misinformation squirted out by advocates for the homeless. This small group has successfully sued to force New York City to provide shelter beds to all comers and has drummed up Congressmen and movie stars to sleep on grates to highlight the homeless (temporarily pushed off their grates for the greater / good). Among the leading advocates: Mitchell Snyder, an all-purpose radical Catholic activist who once fasted two months to protest the impiety of naming a nuclear attack submarine Corpus Christi and who now heads a Washington group called the Community for Creative Non-Violence, and Robert Hayes, formerly a Sullivan & Cromwell lawyer and now chief of the National Coalition for the Homeless.The advocates have shaped the national perception of homelessness along with the nascent national agenda for addressing it. But their picture obscures more than it illuminates. Take the question of numbers. According to most press reports, the homeless total between two million and three million souls, roughly 1% of the U.S. population. This figure comes from Snyder, who told a congressional committee in 1980 that 2.2 million Americans were without homes, an estimate he upped to three million two years later. Plucked out of the air after chats with some front-line observers, that figure has no anchor in fact. Several scientific studies point to a much lower number. University researchers, guided by experienced policemen, social workers, and local homeless people, have combed representative areas of major cities after dark, looking for the homeless in alleys, cellars, vacant buildings, thickets, all- night movies, and parked cars, including those rented out at 50 cents a night by a Washington garage attendant. These investigators couldn't find Snyder's huddled masses. What they did find suggests a number around one-tenth of Snyder's -- probably 250,000 to 350,000, certainly not more than 500,000. The real figures show that homelessness is a grave national problem, but something less than the apocalyptic catastrophe, needing total national mobilization, that advocates depict. Who are the homeless? The advocates emphasize that, increasingly, they are families. Ozzie and Harriet and their kids out on the street? Turn on the TV news to see what Congress is doing about the homeless, and puzzlement grows. Says advocate Robert Hayes: ''I can't tell you how often a congressional committee has called and said, 'We need a witness for a hearing. Can you get us a homeless family: mother, father -- father out of work in the past four months from an industrial plant -- white?' '' The point is to make observers sympathize by identification. But since so few of the homeless actually fit this description, the result is confusion. The point is also to show mainstream citizens doing everything right but ; nevertheless struck down by the homelessness plague. Of the contagion's center the advocates have no doubt. Says Hayes: ''The homeless are indeed the most egregious symbol of a cruel economy, an unresponsive government, a festering value system.'' Alvin Schorr, a Case Western Reserve professor of family and child welfare, turns the indictment explicitly partisan by predicting a rash of Hoovervilles that he dubs Reaganvilles. Says Peter Rossi, a University of Massachusetts sociologist whose census of the homeless in Chicago was published in a leading scientific journal: ''The advocates want you to say, 'There but for the grace of God and the fact that Reagan didn't look at me directly go I.' '' The evidence of your senses tells you that the homeless are generally quite different from this, and your senses are right. What Rossi found in Chicago, investigators in other cities have found too: The homeless are a deeply disturbed population. So if the first image that comes into your mind at the thought of the homeless is a bag lady or a wino rather than a solid family down on its luck, you've seen a significant part of the problem, not a trivial corner. The various categories of the homeless overlap, and separating them into groups yields only approximations. But the general outline of the homeless, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, looks like this: 56% are single men, 15% are single women, 28% make up families, mostly one-parent. As a group they are getting younger: Most are under 40. The proportion of minorities ranges from 25% in Portland, Oregon, to 90% in New York City. Ten National Institute of Mental Health studies in different areas of the U.S. have consistently found that nearly one-third of the homeless -- fully 100,000 people, if the homeless total 300,000 -- are severely mentally ill. Another one-third are chronic alcoholics, many of whom are also regular drug takers. THE HOMELESS mentally ill, whose illness almost certainly caused their homelessness rather than vice versa, are the main group who need far different help than public housing. How they ended up on the street, cold, sick, fearful, and in harm's way, is a national scandal worth remembering. It began with good intentions, when a 1963 law ordained a system of community mental health centers. These would care for patients who, now that doctors had antipsychotic drugs like Thorazine, could function well enough to live in the community -- a phrase whose meaning remained vague but optimistic -- instead of in state mental institutions, then properly coming under attack for often vicious treatment. Patients would improve simply from the social stimulation they would find outside, as opposed to the gray routine and locked doors that caused them to deteriorate further in the state hospitals. Where would the deinstitutionalized live? Says University of Maryland professor Leona Bachrach: ''The idealism blinded us to some of those specifics.'' No residential centers were opened -- only outpatient clinics, and not enough. Meanwhile, counterculture psychiatrists were arguing that madness was a rational response to a crazed world and that mental illness, far from being a clear-cut disease, was only a behavioral difference -- an ''alternative lifestyle'' -- that couldn't justify locking people up against their will. Small wonder that the civil liberties lawyers turned their attention to the state mental hospitals. The lawyers helped get some institutions closed and won court decisions making it hard to institutionalize people and easy for patients to win release. The result, beginning 20 years ago, was a disgorging of mental patients from the institutions and into a mental health system that couldn't meet their needs. Many lived in SROs for a time but eventually landed on the streets where, without their drugs, they got crazier. Wandering uncared for, as madmen hadn't in civilized countries since before the Enlightenment, they were the first wave of the homelessness problem.

Today, however, the homeless mentally ill are more often not the deinstitutionalized but the younger never-institutionalized -- those who got sick after the deinstitutionalization movement had eviscerated the mental health care system. Never diagnosed or medicated, many become sicker by dosing themselves with the street dope or alcohol that temporarily quiets the voices. To imagine it a triumph of civil liberty that people unable to make rational choices are now free to choose is humbug. Says poverty expert Anna Kondratas, head of the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service: ''It's irresponsible to allow people who can't help themselves to be on the streets.'' Neglect is not just inhumane but sometimes dangerous. Debra Sanchez was sitting with her children in a park in upper Manhattan one spring day in 1986 when a screaming man strode to her bench and screamed at her and her children, screamed about killing. Her children terrified, Sanchez asked a policeman whether the man could be taken away. ''No,'' the policeman replied, ''these guys from the homeless shelter are harmless. Don't worry about the yelling.'' A month later Sanchez saw the harmless screamer on the front pages of the New York papers: He had killed two and wounded nine with a sword on the Staten Island ferry. Psychiatrists had evaluated him a few days earlier as a psychotic paranoid, but increasingly the lawyer-created criterion for involuntary committal -- being a danger to yourself or others -- seems to require that you actually hurt somebody. What the one-third of the homeless who are mentally ill need is a mental health system that works. This means a network of community mental health clinics with vigorous outreach programs for those who can manage to take their medicine and live uninstitutionalized; humane state hospitals for those who can't, either permanently or episodically; and residential centers for those who with support and supervision don't need to be locked up. It also means making the difficult distinctions a civilized society can make between nonconformity and madness, and forcibly caring for those for whom liberty means the freedom to suffer outdoors in rags, covered with sores and mumbling incoherently. IS SUCH A SYSTEM worth the expense? Come down to St. Francis House, a Manhattan residence run as an SRO by Franciscans, helped by a part-time nurse and social worker paid by the state and some part-time volunteer psychiatrists. Meet Stan, a round-faced, alert, infectiously cheerful resident, age 30, who earnestly tells you that all that people like him need are some good job training programs. If you encountered him somewhere else you might incline to believe this engaging young man. Here, the restless look in his eyes gives you pause, and when he explains that Midwesterners like him think that the voices he hears are divine, not disease, you know it's not training he needs. A year and a half ago a psychiatric outreach program found Stan living brutishly under a bridge, by no means cheerful or engaging, bolstered up and armored with numerous coats and hats. It took six months of slowly winning his trust to get him to come out of his burrow into an office, and still more months before he would see a psychiatrist. After that, he improved steadily on antipsychotic drugs. Says his psychiatrist, Charles Davis: ''He shed those layers of clothing like he was shedding his psychosis.'' Giving him a human existence instead of a troll-like one costs $14 to $15 a day, plus about $5 a week for his medicine. Almost every social ill leaves its dazed victims washed up on the street, like debris after a shipwreck. Homelessness is ruin, and many of the victims have followed the traditional roads to it. Says Donald Johnson, executive director of the Star of Hope Mission shelter, Houston's largest: ''A lot of this is the fruits of the sexual revolution, the drug revolution, the freedom to be yourself, the self-gratification revolution, the Me Generation. 'I'm not responsible. I'm not accountable.' Most people survive it, but some don't.'' Take, in particular, the alcoholics, the younger of whom generally also take drugs. Here on a gray vinyl-matted floor of a padded room in the Local Alcohol Reception Center near the Phoenix airport lie two sleepers, hardly more than boys and so dead drunk the Trump of Doom wouldn't wake them. The one upturned face you see is delicate, handsome, and peevish. Picked off a downtown street, the pair came in this morning in a locked van that's hard to keep clean of vomit and urine. Unless they elect to sign up for the rehabilitation program, which isn't likely, they'll be back on the street as soon as their blood alcohol level comes down from the stratosphere. What does the center do for them? Says patrol supervisor Larry Egnor: ''We're sustaining life from one day to the next. We don't have too many who are going to go out and become John Citizen.'' At the East Third Street Shelter, just off New York's Bowery, some men who are trying to escape such a life through the shelter's Alcoholics Anonymous and supported work programs speak of that life's ravages. Anthony, drinking and taking drugs since he was 10, couldn't keep a job; he wouldn't show up. Now 23, he became homeless almost three years ago after he ran up gambling debts he couldn't pay. ''To prevent myself and my family from being hurt, I had to totally skip the scene,'' he says. He sees his girlfriend and their 7- year-old daughter infrequently. ''I have a lot of remorse about it,'' he says. ''What can I do now? What's done is done.'' Carleton, 37, found what he calls ''the in road to the in crowd'' through drugs, gambling, and alcohol. By 1984 he had broken with his parents and walked out on his wife and two children. Renting a room in a friend's apartment for $25 a week left the rest of his $200-a-week auto mechanic's wages to buy drugs. When his duties increased but his pay didn't, he quit in disgust and then bounced from shelter to shelter. By contrast, 37-year-old Jimmy, believing that the world owed him a living, wrote numerous bad checks to buy heroin and booze and ended up in jail several times. He has been in A.A. nine times before; but his cousin has just died from drugs and alcohol, and that makes him take this tenth try more seriously. Says deputy shelter director Philip Parker of most of his charges: ''The core problem isn't the job, the housing. It's the drinking, and unless we deal with that we're going to be going around in circles forever.'' Some of the drinkers belong to another troubled, dislocated group: military veterans, who total a third to a half of the homeless men. Vietnam vets are the largest contingent of these, including some 60 found last year in a patch of Florida woods they called the Jungle. This isn't unprecedented; the Civil War and World War I spawned large-scale veteran homelessness. ''Persons who are marginal economically go into the military, and when the war is over they get dumped again,'' says Marjorie J. Robertson, a Los Angeles psychologist who has studied homeless vets. That may be why most of the Vietnam vets she interviewed turned out to be volunteers, not draftees: They had enlisted out of economic motives. But instead of job training they got combat drill, sometimes along with physical or mental injuries that made them less instead of more qualified than when they signed up. WHO WOULD have thought that American society would ever invent the term ''throwaway kids'' and the malign reality to go with it? But here they are among the homeless, teens and subteens abandoned or abused by parents too drunk, drugged, or crazed to care for them. Or they've run away from foster homes, to which some were consigned by parents themselves homeless. Foster care can be damaging enough when child welfare agencies crush children's trust and affection by moving them around to keep them from getting attached to someone other than the real parent who, the myth goes, will reclaim them one day. But when children flee foster care, they're usually escaping worse things, generally sexual or other abuse. These kids live in abandoned buildings; 60 of them scrambled out of one that caught fire in Los Angeles three years ago. They live by thievery, dope peddling, and ''subsistence prostitution,'' as University of Pennsylvania social scientist Kay Young McChesney calls it. They don't go to school. Older men -- meaning 28- or 30-year-olds -- keep some of the girls, often throwing them out when they reach 19 or so. These young people are up to three times more likely than ordinary kids to have pneumonia, uncontrolled asthma, or complications from sexually transmitted diseases. Of the throwaway kids seen by the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, says program administrator Gary Yates, one-half were drug abusers, one-third had injected intravenous drugs in the past year, one- quarter said they were involved in prostitution, 40% had been sexually or physically abused before age ten, 80% were clinically depressed, and one in five had tried suicide. Inevitably some of the girls get pregnant, and some decide to have the baby, starting yet a second generation of homeless children. ''They have literally no way to care adequately for this child,'' says McChesney. But, she adds, all these emotionally starved young mothers talked to her with painful earnestness about how good their babies were, how they never fussed at being hungry as other babies would. Of course, as McChesney saw, they were malnourished and too listless to cry. Throwaway kids aren't hard to help. A pilot shelter program Yates runs for them shows that just under three-quarters of those who come sign up for a two- month program to get them off the street, and three-quarters of those graduate from the program into a job, a relative's house, or a foster home, where most remain. Perhaps a quarter of all people who are homeless at any given time won't be homeless long. Temporarily overwhelmed by misfortune, they will recover at least well enough to be housed again. These include wives who have fled abusive mates along with wives whose husbands have abandoned or thrown them out -- another class harmed by our loosened social fabric. Some of these women go to emergency shelters. From here most move on to friends or relatives, to a job, or, if they have children, onto welfare. Some of the homeless have been burned out of their houses, or evicted, and their homelessness too is usually temporary. Americans shuddered in 1981 and 1982 at the sight of laid-off Rust Belt workers living in their cars and traveling to California and Texas in search of jobs. They looked like Depression-era Okies all over again. Now some refugees from the Southwest oil bust and the Northwest lumber bust are migrating across California and Arizona looking for a new start. With pickup $ trucks loaded with furniture and laundry fluttering from a line strung between upturned table legs, they look like a vision from The Grapes of Wrath. Yet for all their ill-omened appearance, most of the Rust Belt refugees seem to have reentered the mainstream economy, and the oil and timber refugees, also victims of a global economic realignment, appear likely to follow them. Even when they recover, the misery they have undergone is real. Large economic changes -- like those that have swept over the oil patch, the forests, the Rust Belt, and the farms -- leave victims. ANYONE ATTEMPTING to classify the varieties of misfortune and failure that lead people to homelessness must pause to confess how inadequate the enterprise can be when faced with the living reality. Often you just can't know. For instance, how did this worn, pretty-faced woman of 38 or 40 come to be sitting with a tin can labeled ''Donations for the homeless lady'' on the pavement beside the Los Angeles City Hall, close by the bushes where she spent the night? She turns a tired face up from her book and mentions a divorce, children she hasn't seen in years, help not given when needed. But what exactly happened? ''It's a long story,'' she says in a voice of despondency just this side of tears. ''A long story.'' And turns back to her book. Or who knows what will happen to this well-spoken, courteous Irishwoman in her 40s making up her iron top bunk in Transition House, a shelter in Santa Barbara? After her divorce, she says, she couldn't get her life together. To have a place to live she worked in Morro Bay as a paid companion to an old lady, whose relatives before long put her in a nursing home and sold the house. After trying and abjectly failing to sell real estate, the Irishwoman went to live temporarily with a friend in San Diego, then headed back up toward Morro Bay. On the way she stopped at Santa Barbara, sat on the beach to eat a sandwich and think about her troubled life, saw a sign for a nearby mission, went in and talked to a social worker, and ended up here. She says she worked long and skillfully as a counselor in a church program for the troubled in Belfast, but she lacks the credentials to get such a job in America, which is what she would like. There's no way of knowing how much of what she so articulately says is true, or where she will go next. Nor is there any way to know what to make of the mother and her ethereally beautiful daughter of 14 or 15, both of them dressed like leftovers from the Summer of Love and both having breakfast at a shelter in Manhattan. The other residents don't like them: They feed the communal milk to their cat, the others say, and the mother pimps for her daughter at the McDonald's down the street. They slept on the street last night, having missed the shelter curfew: They had attended a performance at Lincoln Center, they say. And what degree of social breakdown is attested to by three young couples received at the Salvation Army shelter in Phoenix within a recent month? Each couple had a defective baby. And each couple, living as lovers, turned out to be brother and sister. Putting aside these families, what about all those other families that advocates tell us are the fastest-growing portion of the homeless? Overwhelmingly they are female-headed welfare families: 80% of all homeless families in New York, 91% in Massachusetts, 64% in Atlanta, 50% in Denver are composed of welfare mothers with on average two or three children. In New York City, in Massachusetts, and in Los Angeles, most of them fall into that 20% of all welfare clients who are long-term dependents of the system. Some unknown but probably substantial portion of these are members of the underclass, that minority of the poor, often concentrated in urban ghettos, whose culture is marked by persistent welfare dependency, nonwork, school leaving, out-of- wedlock (and often teenage) pregnancy, drugs, and crime (FORTUNE, May 11). HARVARD PSYCHIATRIST Ellen L. Bassuk and her associates interviewed homeless mothers in Massachusetts shelters and diagnosed 71% of them as suffering from personality disorders. As she says, they had ''long-term maladaptation in their major roles in life: lousy relationships, poor parenting, poor work history.'' The children of these mothers suffer the consequences, with widespread developmental and learning problems, and severe anxiety and depression. Comments Harvard sociologist Richard Freeman, an expert on the homeless: ''If you fail so badly as a welfare mother that you are on the streets, you've got to have immense problems.'' The psychopathology Bassuk found in these women sounds at least distantly related to what Donald Johnson, a layman, names as the most striking characteristic of the thousands of people he has sheltered at his Star of Hope Mission in Houston. ''The vast majority of the homeless,'' he says, ''even those not mentally ill or drunk or on dope, have a character defect -- a sense of worthlessness and a detachment from the social network. If you're a relatively unimportant person with not much going for you, you think, 'Why care?' '' Faced with the misery of the homeless, so much of it undeserved, your impulse is to stride in like St. George and rescue with a vengeance. To be sure, there are things you can do, after the model of Gary Yates and his Los Angeles program for throwaway children. The citizens of San Diego, for instance, have set up an exemplary shelter system funded entirely by private money. Fulfilling their traditional charitable mission, churches and synagogues across the country offer shelter and food to the homeless. A New York City program provides rent money to tide people over emergencies. The sizable underclass contingent among the homeless -- not just among the welfare mothers but also among the drunks and drug abusers -- serves as a cautionary reminder of the unintended consequences of social programs. The underclass is the starkest example of the hydralike quality of some social problems, growing worse and more intractable as a result of the efforts made to solve them. The underclass's entrenched culture of dependence, its inability from one generation to another to participate in the larger society, the stunted development of its human potentialities -- all this was fostered by the welfare system and the War on Poverty. Clearly 300,000 homeless people require some kind of shelter system; distress is distress, whether brought on by misfortune or character flaw. Though the majority of Americans won't tolerate obstructing the national economy with a giant welfare apparatus, they don't believe in abandoning the unlucky or the weak to the streets. But the danger with the national right-to- shelter law that some advocates prescribe is that it would entrench and even increase homelessness while providing one more mechanism to root a portion of the underclass more deeply in dependence. For instance, since voters passed Initiative 17 guaranteeing shelter to all District of Columbia residents, homeless families in D.C. shelters have increased by 500%. That's largely because families who'd been doubled up with relatives or friends now have an alternative. One woman telephoned from Hong Kong, though, to say she had just enough money for plane fare, so would authorities please reserve space for her and her children. Once in a shelter, some find it hard to leave. Says New York shelter field manager Roger Newman: ''You see a lot of people who become dependent on the system. It isn't the best place to be, but for some families it is the best situation.'' LOWELL, 27, who lives with his wife in New York's Catherine Street family shelter, exemplifies that principle. With winning smile and ingratiating manner, he formerly made $350 a week as a manager of a Burger King; his wife earns $160 at one of the chain's other branches. In the shelter for three months since his aunt evicted him, he quit his job after getting back to the shelter late enough to be locked out several times. He could easily find another job, but the idea leaves him cold. ''If you get a job, you're going to be abused financially,'' he says. ''No one has ever paid me what I'm worth.'' So he letters signs for the shelter and thinks about how to become famous as a graphic artist. Meanwhile, he's not complaining. ''You know what we had for dinner last night?'' he asks. ''Steak. We have a TV, a video room. I see more movies here than I ever saw outside. You really can't ask for more.'' The more a shelter system can be privately supported and run, and geared to local circumstances, the better. That's not only because such a system resists turning -- like New York's $300-million-a-year behemoth -- into a huge, ravenously expensive, permanent bureaucracy with specious ''entitlements'' that sink its clients further into permanent dependency. A private system has a purposefulness public systems lack. Says Rev. Eugene Boutilier, a minister in the United Church of Christ and emergency services manager of the Los Angeles United Way: ''Our motivation is not just to provide three hots and a cot, but to change lives.'' AS MUCH as possible, that should be the purpose of publicly funded shelters too. Today these institutions make few distinctions. At the Catherine Street shelter, for instance, you look in one messy 14-bedded room, housing four or five families, and discover a malevolent-looking young man and his teen-age wife lying in adjoining beds at noon. A few doors down the hall you come upon four beds drawn close together to mark out one family's turf, each bed made up with military precision, each pillow surmounted by a hand-made stuffed animal, a goldfish in a bowl on the nightstand -- all this betokening a far different mode of life, far higher aspirations. The family with the goldfish, almost certainly, will find a home for itself % promptly. Until then it needs a refuge that will keep its self-respect alive and perhaps provide some apartment and job hunting help. The young couple, by contrast, probably needs motivation to get out. The shelter ought to offer them job training or workfare programs and hold out a certain amount of privacy or better food or a communal TV room as an incentive to participate. If they won't participate, they should be sent to a less comfortable shelter. Shelter systems that, unlike New York's, don't have to take all comers, should allow employable people to stay for longer than a limited time only if they are regularly doing something to get themselves out -- for instance, job training or job hunting. So far welfare reform hasn't been able to reach underclass men, since most of them are not on welfare, but the shelter system does touch many of them and might be used as a means of motivating them back into the mainstream. Shelters need to provide services and structure, not just beds. Shelters that house welfare mothers, for instance, should be centralized so they can be big enough to run day care and after-school care programs for the children who live there in order to give them better nurturing and higher aspirations than most of their mothers can provide. If psychiatrist Bassuk's findings of personality disorder hold true for parts of the U.S. other than Massachusetts, these women would benefit from some basic therapy, too. A humane society cares for those at the bottom. It does so, however, not by making them abject dependents of the state but by trying to restore them to membership in the community. It helps them best by giving them the means, and showing them the way, to help themselves.