Homelessness in popular culture

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Homelessness is depicted in various popular culture works. The issue is frequently described as an invisible problem,[1] despite its prevalence.[2] Writers and other artists play a role in bringing the issue to public attention. Homelessness is the central theme of many works; in other works homelessness is secondary, added to advance the story or contribute to dramatic effect.

Homelessness is the central subject in most of the works of art listed here.

Depictions of homelessness[edit]

The homeless are frequently divided as either protagonists or antagonists. Characters, like Chaplin's Little Tramp, provide light-hearted humor through lovable personalities. Fred Glass writes the social type of Chaplin's character represented was familiar and emotionally appealing. One account given is that Chaplin based his character on a man whom he had met in San Francisco in 1914.[3]

Popular music[edit]


Popular music albums[edit]



TV and radio[edit]


Entertainment and comedy[edit]



A homeless man in Paris


  • 1853. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
  • 1905. "The Cop and the Anthem" (short story) by O. Henry.
  • 1983. Ironweed by William Kennedy.
  • 1993. Stone Cold by Robert Swindells.
  • 1996. Junk by Melvin Burgess.
  • 2010. Street Logic by Steve Sundberg, Bookstand Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1-58909-680-6


  • 1907. Tramping with Tramps by Josiah Flynt.[13]
  • 1933. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.
  • 1998. The homeless in Paris: a representative sample survey of users of services for the homeless, in Dragana Avramov, ed, Coping with homelessness : issues to be tackled and best practices in Europe, Ashgate Publishing, by Maryse Marpsat and Jean-Marie Firdion.
  • 2005. Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy.
  • 2005. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. ISBN 0-7432-4753-1
  • 2005. Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski.

Visual arts[edit]

"Old Beggar" by Louis Dewis, 1916


  1. ^ "The invisible problem".
  2. ^ "HUMAN RIGHTS: More Than 100 Million Homeless Worldwide" Archived 2009-04-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Glass, Fred (2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520288409.
  4. ^ "Those Charlie Chaplin Feet." Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection. Accessed 10 September 2017. http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog/levy:189.170a
  5. ^ "Singing a Vagabond Song." Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection. Accessed 10 September 2017. http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog/levy:191.122
  6. ^ The Glass Spider Tour Press Conferences (Stockholm) (vinyl). 28 March 1987.
  7. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (October 2016). The Complete David Bowie New Edition: Expanded and Updated. Titan Books.
  8. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards 1987". 11 September 1987. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  9. ^ "A Walking Tour of... Kurt Cobain's Aberdeen". The Aberdeen Museum of History. Retrieved 2008-12-08. Whether Cobain ever slept under this bridge as he claimed is not certain, however, he did spend time beneath the south approach, as did many of the neighborhood kids.
  10. ^ Bienias, Michelle (January 2005). "Kurt Cobain's 'Bridge' in Aberdeen, Washington" (18). VR MAG. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Kurt lived under this bridge for a time when he was 15 and frequented it as a ‘hang out’ of sorts as well. His experiences living under this bridge were the basis for the Nirvana song ‘Something's In the Way’. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Mills, Fred, "Give Them Your Money: Give US Your Poor Benefit Disc Features Springsteen, Seeger, Raitt, Bon Jovi, Others" Archived 2008-01-12 at the Wayback Machine, HARP magazine, July 22, 2007
  12. ^ Vennila Films Post-Production page on "We are not Faraway
  13. ^ Flynt, Josiah (1907). Tramping with Tramps. New York City: The Century Company.