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Article

Between 1950 and 1980, the United States developed a welfare state that in many ways was comparable to those of other advanced industrial nations. Building on its New Deal roots, the Social Security system came to provide a “social wage” to older Americans, people with disability, and the dependents of deceased workers. It created a health-care insurance system for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. Using the tax system in innovative ways, the government encouraged the expansion of pension and health-care protection for a majority of workers and their families. By 1980, some Americans could argue that their identification as a “laggard” in the field of social provision was no longer justified.

Article

Lou M. Beasley

Ralph David Abernathy (1926–1990) was a pastor who became president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after the assassination of Martin Luther King. He was director of personnel, dean of men, and professor of social studies at Alabama State University.

Article

This entry explores key definitions, causes, and characteristics of slums in the global arena, along with the types of social work practice and general community development approaches being used to catalyze action to decrease the prevalence of slums. Core strategies include using planning efforts that prioritize input from people who live in slums, creating affordable housing, and otherwise transitioning urban slums into vibrant communities. Concluding thoughts and further considerations for social work practice are offered.

Article

American social welfare began in the colonial period with the adoption of the Elizabethan Poor Laws as the basis for treatment of society's poor and deviant. By the beginning of the Progressive Era (1900), immigration, the Women's Movement, scientific investigation of social problems, and societal growth produced significant innovations in both public and private perceptions, programs, and treatment in such areas as poor relief, mental and physical health, and corrections, and led to the beginnings of professionalization of social work.

Article

Larraine M. Edwards

Lillian Wald (1867–1940) was a pioneer in public health nursing. In 1893, she co-founded the Henry Street Settlement which provided professional nursing care to poor people at little or no cost. She is credited with the proposal that led to the establishment of the Children's Bureau in 1912.

Article

Fred Brooks and Amanda Gutwirth

If one of the goals of macro social work in the United States is to decrease poverty and inequality, by most measures it has largely failed that mission over the past 40 years. After briefly documenting the four-decade rise in inequality and extreme poverty in the United States, three organizing campaigns are highlighted—living wage, Fight for $15, and strikes by public school educators—that fought hard to reverse such trends. A strategy, “bargaining for the common good,” which was implemented across those campaigns, is analyzed as a key ingredient to their success.

Article

Jean K. Quam

George Wiley (1931–1973) was a reformer, organizer, and social activist. He is credited with organizing poor people into a significant political force in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He founded the Poverty/Rights Action Center in Washington, DC.

Article

Housing  

Anita Zuberi, Gale Schwartz, and Tracy M. Soska

Housing remains foundational to the American Dream, but it is also among our most challenging social issues. The collapse of the housing market in the early 21st century, along with the persistent challenges of affordable housing access, funding, and instability, continue to shape housing issues today. These housing issues are inextricably linked to both national economic disparities and wavering social policies. Housing is symptomatic of and a catalyst for overarching social and economic issues, including racial disparities; economic, educational, and health inequalities; and poverty. It remains an unmet need for a significant portion of our population, such as the working poor, elderly people, those living with a disability, victims of abuse, those aging out of child welfare, veterans, those involved with the justice system, and others who encounter unique difficulties and lack supportive services and service coordination. Advancing comprehensive and coordinated housing policies and programs remains important for social work and to ensure decent and affordable housing for all.