Shelter: Homelessness in Our Community

Orca. (Orca Think). Oct. 2021. 120p. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781459825536.
Gr 4-8–Former homeless shelter director Peterson offers a well-rounded, empathetic overview of issues related to homelessness in North America. The majority of the book focuses on people who are unsheltered or in emergency shelters, although early chapters also define and describe being at risk of homelessness or provisionally accommodated. While the work considers experiences common among homeless people, such as trauma and discrimination, it avoids generalization, exploring instead the diverse reasons that people may become homeless, the experiences of high-risk groups (e.g., veterans, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQIA+ youth) and the varied pathways out of homelessness. It also presents a hopeful view of homelessness as an issue that many stakeholders—including non-profit organizations, volunteers, children, and homeless people themselves—are working hard to address. Systemic causes, such as the lack of affordable housing, low minimum wages, and housing discrimination are explored thoroughly in the book’s second half. The layout is modern and visually appealing, with color photographs and illustrations; bright, bold headings; and sidebars on topics like common myths about homelessness and examples of ways that young people are helping in their communities. Unfamiliar terms are bolded in the text and defined in a glossary. Back matter offers recommended fiction and nonfiction titles as well as online resources.
VERDICT An outstanding, sophisticated introduction to a complex topic, this book encourages readers to prioritize kindness towards and dignity for people experiencing homelessness. Recommended as a first purchase.

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