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This article discusses the government’s response to what appeared at the time to be an overnight explosion of the homeless population in big cities and small towns as a result of major economic and social changes of the early 1980s. In order to respond effectively to underlying problems of homelessness, it explores solutions that are more comprehensive than merely building shelters. The author argues that while homelessness has a direct link to poverty, the government must also address more complex causes including, the lack of adequate mental health care, substance abuse, a decline in the availability of affordable housing, and the shift from blue-collar manufacturing to service sector jobs. The author stresses the importance of recognizing that reconnecting homeless people with society requires the homeless to move through a series of transitional steps. Two programs, HUD’s D.C. Initiative and Beyond McKinney Coalition proposals, that offer support services such as comprehensive health coverage, educational services, substance abuse treatment, day care, and job training and counseling, are featured.