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Abstract

The costs and benefits of sheltering the homeless experienced by "informal shelter providers "-people who shelter their homeless friends and relatives-are investigated. The benefits of informal sheltering to the community are also examined. Informal shelter providers are among the most destitute in the community, and they are at great risk of becoming homeless themselves. The community receives considerable benefit from informal sheltering. The dependency of the community on the fragile system of informal shelter providers for prevention of homelessness indicates the inadequacy of present housing programs and the failure of our housing policies. Recommendations for preserving and nurturing the invisible but extensive system of informal shelters are made.

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