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Poverty & Homelessness

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  1. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    6.8 hrs • 6/28/2016 • Unabridged

    From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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    Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

    Hillbilly Elegy

    6.8 hrs • 6/28/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 4.4 hrs • 10/7/2014 • Unabridged

    From the author of the eye-opening and controversial essay on poverty that was read by millions comes the real-life Nickel and Dimed, as Linda Tirado explains what it’s like to be working poor in America and why poor people make the decisions they do. We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America—yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two—but what poverty is truly like on all levels. In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

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    Hand to Mouth

    Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Read by Linda Tirado
    4.4 hrs • 10/7/14 • Unabridged
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  3. 4.3 hrs • 6/24/2014 • Unabridged

    This audiobook has a simple message for business leaders: your primary goal must be to serve and raise the poor. The poor need to enter the economic system to buy products, put money in banks, and move into the middle class. This is the only approach that can possibly save the American Dream. John Hope Bryant, successful self-made businessman and founder of the nonprofit Operation HOPE, says business and political leaders are ignoring the one force that could truly re-energize the stalled American economy: the poor. If we give poor communities the right tools, policies, and inspiration, he argues, they will be able to lift themselves up into the middle class and become a new generation of customers and entrepreneurs. Raised in poverty-stricken, gang-infested South Central Los Angeles, Bryant saw firsthand how our institutions have abandoned the poor. He details how business loans, home loans, and financial investments have vanished from their communities. After decades of deprivation, the poor lack bank accounts, decent credit scores, and any real firsthand experience of how a healthy free enterprise system functions. Bryant radically redefines the meaning of poverty and wealth. He exposes why attempts to aid the poor so far have fallen short and offers a way forward: the HOPE Plan, a series of straightforward, actionable steps to build financial literacy and expand opportunity so that the poor can join the middle class. Fully 70 percent of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, but more and more people have too much month at the end of their money. John Hope Bryant aspires to “expand the philosophy of free enterprise to include all of God’s children” and create a thriving economy that works not just for the 1 percent or even the 99 percent but for the 100 percent. This is a free enterprise approach to solving the problem of poverty and raising up a new America.

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    How the Poor Can Save Capitalism

    4.3 hrs • 6/24/14 • Unabridged
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  4. 0 reviews 0 5 4.8 4 out of 5 stars 4.8/5
    14.0 hrs • 4/8/2014 • Unabridged

    A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery. Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out forty percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail. In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends—growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration—come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty. The Divide is what allows massively destructive fraud by the hyperwealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a crime—but it’s impossible to see until you look at these two alarming trends side by side. In The Divide, Matt Taibbi takes readers on a galvanizing journey through both sides of our new system of justice—the fun-house-mirror worlds of the untouchably wealthy and the criminalized poor. He uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse, a wild conspiracy of billionaire hedge fund managers to destroy a company through dirty tricks, and the story of a whistleblower who gets in the way of the largest banks in America only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, Taibbi takes us to the front lines of the immigrant dragnet, into the newly punitive welfare system that treats its beneficiaries as thieves, and deep inside the stop-and-frisk world, where standing in front of your own home has become an arrestable offense. As he narrates these incredible stories, he draws out and analyzes their common source: a perverse new standard of justice, based on a radical, disturbing new vision of civil rights. Through astonishing—and enraging—accounts of the high-stakes capers of the wealthy and nightmare stories of regular people caught in the Divide’s punishing logic, Taibbi lays bare one of the greatest challenges we face in contemporary American life: surviving a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all.

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    The Divide

    14.0 hrs • 4/8/14 • Unabridged
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  5. 12.4 hrs • 2/4/2014 • Unabridged

    When we think of global poverty we usually think of hunger, disease, homelessness. Few of us think of violence. But beneath the surface of the poorest communities in the developing world is a hidden epidemic of everyday violence—of rape, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, police abuse, and more—that is undermining our best efforts to assist the poor.  Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros’ The Locust Effect offers a searing account of the way pervasive violence blocks the road out of poverty, undermines economic development, and reduces the effectiveness of international public health efforts. As corrupt and dysfunctional justice systems allow the locusts of predatory violence to descend upon the poor, the ravaging plague lays waste to programs of income generation, disease prevention, education for girls and other assistance to the poor. And tragically, none of these aid programs can stop the violence.  In graphic real-world stories—set in locales ranging from Peru to India to Nigeria—The Locust Effect offers a gripping journey into the vast, hidden underworld of everyday violence where justice is only available to those with money. But the book holds out hope, recalling that justice systems in developed countries were once just as corrupt and brutal, and explores a practical path for throwing off antiquated colonial justice systems and re-engineering the administration of justice to protect the poorest. Sweeping in scope and filled with unforgettable stories, The Locust Effect will force us to rethink everything we know about the causes of poverty and what it will take to make the poor safe enough to prosper.

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    The Locust Effect

    12.4 hrs • 2/4/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 7.0 hrs • 2/1/2014 • Unabridged

    In the underground tunnels below Grand Central Terminal, Lee Stringer—homeless and drug-addicted for eleven years—found a pencil to run through his crack pipe. One day he used it to write. Soon writing became a habit that won out over drugs, and before long Stringer had created one of the most powerful urban memoirs of our time. With humane wisdom and a biting wit, Stringer chronicles the unraveling of his seemingly secure existence as a marketing executive and his odyssey of survival on the streets of New York. Whether he is portraying “God’s corner,” as he calls 42nd Street, or his friend Suzi, a hooker and “past-due tourist” whose infant he sometimes babysits, whether he recounts taking shelter underneath Grand Central by night and collecting cans by day or making a living hawking Street News on the subway, Lee Stringer conveys the vitality and complexity of a down-and-out life. Rich with small acts of kindness, humor, and even heroism amid violence and desperation, Grand Central Winter offers a touching portrait of our shared humanity.

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    Grand Central Winter, Expanded Second Edition by Lee Stringer

    Grand Central Winter, Expanded Second Edition

    Foreword by Kurt Vonnegut
    7.0 hrs • 2/1/14 • Unabridged
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  7. 7.3 hrs • 9/9/2013 • Unabridged

    The nearly three billion people living on two dollars a day are not just the world’s greatest challenge—they represent an extraordinary market opportunity. The key is what Paul Polak and Mal Warwick call Zero-Based Design: starting from scratch to create innovative products and services tailored for the very poor, armed with a thorough understanding of what they really want and need, and driven by what Polak and Warwick call “the ruthless pursuit of affordability.” Polak has been doing this work for years, and Warwick has extensive experience in both business and philanthropy. Together, they show how their design principles and vision can enable unapologetic capitalists to supply the very poor with clean drinking water, electricity, irrigation, housing, education, health care, and other necessities at a fraction of the usual cost and at profit margins comparable to those of businesses in the developed world. Promising governmental and philanthropic efforts to end poverty have not reached scale because they lack the incentives of the market to attract massive resources. This book opens an extraordinary opportunity for nimble entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives that will result not only in vibrant, growing businesses but also a better life for the world’s poorest people.

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    The Business Solution to Poverty by Paul Polak, Mal Warwick

    The Business Solution to Poverty

    7.3 hrs • 9/9/13 • Unabridged
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  8. 5.3 hrs • 8/22/2013 • Unabridged

    Harvard Square is at the center of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the business district around Harvard University. It’s a place of history, culture, and some of the most momentous events of the nation. But it’s also a gathering place for some of the city’s homeless. What is life like for the homeless in Harvard Square? Do they have anything to tell people about life? And God? That’s what Harvard student John Frame discovered and shares in Homeless at Harvard. While taking his final course at Harvard, John Frame stepped outside the walls of academia and onto the streets, pursuing a different kind of education with his homeless friends. What he found, in the way of community and how people understand themselves, may surprise you. In this unique book, each of these urban pioneers shares his own story, providing insider perspectives of life as homeless people see it. This heartwarming book shows how John learned with, from, and about his homeless friends, who together tell an unforgettable story, helping listeners better understand problems outside themselves and that they are more similar to those on the streets than they may have believed.

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    Homeless at Harvard

    5.3 hrs • 8/22/13 • Unabridged
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  9. 2.9 hrs • 10/30/2012 • Unabridged

    For eleven years, Danielle Steel took to the streets with a small team to help the homeless of San Francisco. She worked anonymously, visiting the “cribs” of the city’s most vulnerable citizens under cover of darkness, distributing food, clothing, bedding, tools, and toiletries. She sought no publicity for her efforts and remained anonymous throughout. Now she is speaking to bring attention to their plight. In this unflinchingly honest and deeply moving memoir, the famously private author speaks out publicly for the first time about her work among the most desperate members of our society. She offers achingly acute portraits of the people she met along the way, and issues a heartfelt call for more effective action to aid this vast, deprived population. Determined to supply the homeless with the basic necessities to keep them alive, she ends up giving them something far more powerful: a voice. By turns candid and inspirational, Danielle Steel’s A Gift of Hope is a true act of advocacy and love.

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    A Gift of Hope

    2.9 hrs • 10/30/12 • Unabridged
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  10. 12.8 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Unabridged

    For most people, the Great Crash of 2008 has meant troubling times. Not so for those in the flourishing poverty industry, for whom the economic woes spell an opportunity to expand and grow. These mercenary entrepreneurs have taken advantage of an era of deregulation to devise high-priced products to sell to the credit-hungry working poor, including the instant tax refund and the payday loan. In the process they’ve created an industry larger than the casino business and have proved that pawnbrokers and check cashers, if they dream big enough, can grow very rich off those with thin wallets. Broke, USA is Gary Rivlin’s riveting report from the economic fringes. From the annual meeting of the national check cashers association in Las Vegas to a tour of the foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods of Dayton, Ohio, here is a subprime Fast Food Nation featuring an unforgettable cast of characters and memorable scenes. Rivlin profiles players like a former small-town Tennessee debt collector whose business offering cash advances to the working poor has earned him a net worth in the hundreds of millions, and legendary Wall Street dealmaker Sandy Weill, who rode a subprime loan business into control of the nation’s largest bank. Rivlin parallels their stories with the tale of those committed souls fighting back against the major corporations, chain franchises, and newly hatched enterprises that fleece the country’s hardworking waitresses, warehouse workers, and mall clerks. Timely, shocking, and powerful, Broke, USA offers a much-needed look at why our country is in a financial mess and gives a voice to the millions of ordinary Americans left devastated in the wake of the economic collapse.

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    Broke, USA

    12.8 hrs • 7/15/12 • Unabridged
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  11. 8.3 hrs • 2/7/2012 • Unabridged

    From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities. In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human. Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.” But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

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    Behind the Beautiful Forevers

    8.3 hrs • 2/7/12 • Unabridged
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  12. 8.5 hrs • 5/4/2011 • Unabridged

    The unforgettable inspiring memoir of one extraordinary doctor who is saving lives in a most unconventional way, Ask Me Why I Hurt is the touching and revealing first-person account of the remarkable work of Dr. Randy Christensen. Trained as a pediatrician, he works not in a typical hospital setting but rather in a thirty-eight-foot Winnebago that has been refitted as a doctor’s office on wheels. His patients are the city’s homeless adolescents and children. In the shadow of one affluent American city, Dr. Christensen has dedicated his life to caring for society’s throwaway kids—the often-abused, unloved children who live on the streets without access to proper health care, all the while fending off constant threats from thugs, gangs, pimps, and other predators. With the Winnebago as his moveable medical center, Christensen and his team travel around the outskirts of Phoenix, attending to the children and teens who need him most. With tenderness and humor, Dr. Christensen chronicles everything from the struggles of the van’s early beginnings to the support system it became for the kids and the ultimate recognition it has achieved over the years. Along with his immense professional challenges, he also describes the trials and joys he faces while raising a growing family with his wife, Amy. By turns poignant, heartbreaking, and charming, Dr. Christensen’s story is a gripping and rich memoir of his work and family, one of those rare books that stays with you long after it ends.

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    Ask Me Why I Hurt

    By Randy Christensen, MD, with Rene Denfeld
    8.5 hrs • 5/4/11 • Unabridged
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  13. 7.2 hrs • 2/1/2010 • Unabridged

    Churches and individual Christians typically have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, resulting in the use of strategies that do considerable harm to poor people and themselves. When Helping Hurts provides foundational concepts, clearly articulated general principles, and relevant applications. The result is an effective and holistic ministry to the poor, not a truncated gospel. 

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    When Helping Hurts

    Foreword by David Platt
    7.2 hrs • 2/1/10 • Unabridged
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  14. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    7.7 hrs • 1/1/2009 • Unabridged

    When Orwell went to the north of England in the thirties to find out how industrial workers lived, he not only observed but shared in their experience. He stayed in cramped, dreary lodgings and subsisted on the scant, cheerless diet of the poor. He went down into the coal mines and walked crouching, as the miners did, through a one- to three-mile passage too low to stand up in. He watched the back-breaking, dangerous labor of men whose net pay then averaged $575 a year. And he knew the unemployed, those who had been out of work for so long they had sunk beyond despair into an inhuman apathy. In his searing yet beautiful account of life on the bottom rung, Orwell asks himself why socialism—which alone, he felt, could conserve human values from the ravages of industrialism—had so little appeal. His answer was a harsh critique of the socialism and socialists of his time.

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    The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

    The Road to Wigan Pier

    7.7 hrs • 1/1/09 • Unabridged
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  15. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    6.5 hrs • 1/1/2007 • Unabridged

    Orwell’s own experiences inspire this semi-autobiographical novel about a penniless man living in Paris in the early 1930s. The narrator’s poverty brings him into contact with strange incidents and characters, which he manages to chronicle with great sensitivity and graphic power. The latter half of the book takes the English narrator to his home city, London, where the world of poverty is different in externals only. A socialist who believed that the lower classes were the wellspring of world reform, Orwell actually went to live among them in England and on the continent. His novel draws on his experiences of this world, from the bottom of the echelon in the kitchens of posh French restaurants to the free lodging houses, tramps, and street people of London. In the tales of both cities, we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

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    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

    Down and Out in Paris and London

    6.5 hrs • 1/1/07 • Unabridged
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  16. 8.2 hrs • 5/8/2001 • Unabridged

    Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job, any job, can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned one job is not enough; you need at least two if you want to live indoors. Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity, a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Listen to it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom. You will never see anything—from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal—in quite the same way again.

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    Nickel and Dimed

    8.2 hrs • 5/8/01 • Unabridged
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