Kevin F. Adler and Donald W. Burnes

Nov 28, 2023

When We Walk By

Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America

North Atlantic Books 2023

Think about the last time that you saw or interacted with an unhoused person. What did you do? What did you say? Did you offer money or a smile, or did you avert your gaze?

Kevin F. Adler and Donald W. Burnes's book When We Walk By: Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America (North Atlantic Books, 2023) takes an urgent look at homelessness in America, showing us what we lose--in ourselves and as a society--when we choose to walk past and ignore our neighbors in shelters, insecure housing, or on the streets. And it brilliantly shows what we stand to gain when we embrace our humanity and move toward evidence-based people-first, community-driven solutions, offering social analysis, economic and political histories, and the real stories of unhoused people.

Authors Kevin F. Adler and Donald W. Burnes, with Amanda Banh and Andrijana Bilbija, recast chronic homelessness in the U.S. as a byproduct of twin crises: our social services systems are failing, and so is our humanity. Readers will learn:

  • Why our brains have been trained to overlook our unhoused neighbors
  • The social, economic, and political forces that shape myths like "all homeless people are addicts" and "they'd have a house if they got a job"
  • What conservative economics gets wrong about housing insecurity
  • What relational poverty is, and how to shift away from "us versus them" thinking
  • That for many Americans, housing insecurity is just one missed paycheck away
  • Who "the homeless" really are--and why that might surprise you
  • What you can do to help, starting today

A necessary, deeply humanizing read that goes beyond theory and policy analysis to offer engaged solutions with compassion and heart, When We Walk By is a must-read for anyone who cares about homelessness, housing solutions, and their own humanity.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Ari Barbalat

Ari Barbalat holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of California in Los Angeles. He lives in Toronto with his family.

Learn More

Also Hosted By Ari Barbalat