Monday, April 25, 2011

Derelict Paradise Book Released

A History of Homelessness in Cleveland

Author and Cleveland activist Daniel Kerr is out with his book on the history of homelessness in Cleveland.

From the University of Massachusetts press release:
"Seeking answers to the question, “Who benefits from homelessness?” this book takes the reader on a sweeping tour of Cleveland’s history from the late nineteenth century through the early twenty-first. Daniel Kerr shows that homelessness has deep roots in the shifting ground of urban labor markets, social policy, downtown development, the criminal justice system, and corporate power. Rather than being attributable to the illnesses and inadequacies of the unhoused themselves, it is a product of both structural and political dynamics shaping the city. Kerr locates the origins of today’s shelter system in the era that followed the massive railroad rebellions of 1877. From that period through the Great Depression, business and political leaders sought to transform downtown Cleveland their own advantage. As they focused on bringing business travelers and tourists to the city and beckoned upper-income residents to return to its center, they demolished two downtown working-class neighborhoods and institutionalized a shelter system to contain and control the unhoused and unemployed. The precedents from this period informed the strategies of the post–World War II urban renewal era as the “new urbanism” of the late twentieth century. The efforts of the city’s elites have not gone uncontested. Kerr documents a rich history of opposition by people at the margins whose organized resistance and everyday survival strategies have undermined the grand plans crafted by the powerful and transformed the institutions designed to constrain the lives of the homeless."

Kerr is a founder of the temporary labor company in Cleveland as well as Food Not Bombs. Kerr did a ton of work organizing day laborers in Cleveland, and trying to protect them from exploitation. He was extremely helpful in the protests of the late 1990s to overturn the anti-homeless laws enacted by Mayor Michael White. Kerr spent years looking at homelessness in Cleveland and especially the tension between public and private sector forces to harness the displaced workers in our community. We will have more details on the book on this site and in the next Street Newspaper.

TO ORDER: Please use our toll-free number when placing or inquiring about orders: 1-800-537-5487. This number is available for customers in the U.S. and Canada only. Call Monday through Friday, 8:30–5:00 Eastern time. You may also order by:
going to the University of Massachusetts WEBSITE. ISBN 978-1-55849-849-5.

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Anonymous said...

I'm interested in learning more about this book and subject, but the confusing statement blending urban renewal and new ubanism is like blending agent orange and orange juice. Two very differant things.

Tatiana said...

Yes, urban renewal and new urbanism are always posited against each other. However, this book identifies suprising similarities between the two approaches especially when viewed from below.