"By the second or third day that you’re homeless, in the car with all your clothes, your pots and pans, everything, having to wash yourself in a public rest room, you logically start to feel dirty. You prefer to use the drive-through [at fast-food restaurants] where no one will see you. You begin to hide your family."—Invisible Nation
More than 2.5 million children are homeless in the United States every year. In every state, children are living packed in with relatives, or in cars, or motel rooms, or emergency shelters, the only constant being too many people in too little space. In a vividly-written narrative, experienced journalist Richard Schweid takes us on a spirited journey through this "invisible nation," giving us front-row dispatches. Based on in-depth reporting from five major cities, Invisible Nation looks backward at the historical context of family homelessness, as well as forward at what needs to be done to alleviate this widespread, although often hidden, poverty. Invisible Nation is a riveting must-read for anyone who wants to know what is happening to the millions of families living at the bottom of the economy.
Richard Schweid is a journalist and documentary reporter. He is the author of nine nonfiction books, including Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba, Hot Peppers: The Story of Cajuns and Capsicum, Consider the Eel: A Natural and Gastronomic History, and The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore. He has also produced or reported more than two dozen documentaries for Catalonian public television, including the Oscar-nominated Balseros.
"With this book, Richard Schweid casts an intensely thorough and compassionate eye on the plight of homeless families in America; a tragedy that has plagued us as a country since the first settlers came to its shores. Surely, he asks, in a nation pledging itself to liberty and justice for all, can we not add to that pledge decent housing for those struggling to live among us in dignity?"—Emmylou Harris
"Richard Schweid's superbly written and deftly researched book provides a narrative for the quick fall into homelessness for families who may as well be living next door. I was shocked to read about a situation in my own city, Portland, Oregon, which was a problem I had noticed, but never fully understood. Invisible Nation is a call to action against an urgent problem, affecting children and families in both our countryside and our cities."—Christopher Ryan, best-selling author of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
"It takes a wage of nearly $19 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental anywhere in the U.S. That is more than the income of two minimum-wage workers in much of the nation. This is a crisis that will only get worse. In an excellent blend of on-the-ground research, Richard Schweid reports from shabby hotels, among homeless families, and in several cities across the country, over the course of years. Invisible Nation is a must-read for policy makers, students of sociology, and anyone else concerned about the widening wage gap in our country."—Dale Maharidge, Pulitzer Prize–winner and author of Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression
"Richard Schweid’s Invisible Nation is both a current report on and a deep history of what amounts to the criminalization of poverty and homelessness in the United States, from the foundation of the nation into the present. His account of the damage done to homeless children in our society is not only heartrending but also amounts to a call to action. Read this book and do something about it."—Madison Smartt Bell, author of Zig Zag Wanderer: Stories from Here, Stories from There
"It takes heart, brains, and guts to survive as a homeless mother; the people and policies responsible for homeless mothers are heartless, brainless, and gutless. A brilliant and passionate book that shines a bright light on America's darkest shame."—Allen Frances, chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and of the department of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine