Matthew D. Marr

Publication Date



[Excerpt] In this book, I address two sets of research questions by analyzing the experiences of people who used transitional housing programs in Los Angeles and Tokyo. The first set of questions emerges from the shared goal of escaping homelessness exhibited by my interviewees. It includes the following: How do people get out of homelessness?How do they navigate the social and economic contexts that contribute to their homelessness to obtain income and housing? How is the process of exiting homelessness experienced and interpreted? Why do some people fail in their attempts to get out of homelessness? How are some people able to translate these exits into longer-term stability? Social science research has primarily focused on processes of becoming homeless and surviving materially, socially, and psychologically in that condition, without following people out of homelessness. Although this literature humanizes homelessness by highlighting the structural forces that push people into that condition and their individual and collective resilience in enduring it materially, socially, and emotionally, it does not say much about the aspect of homelessness that I found those experiencing it obsess about—how to get out of it. Thus, I push for a more balanced portrayal of homelessness by using a longitudinal, ethnographic approach that follows people experiencing homelessness as they seek to secure, and sometimes succeed in securing, more stable income, housing, and lives.


The abstract, table of contents, and first twenty-five pages are published with permission from the Cornell University Press. For ordering information, please visit the Cornell University Press.