While doing some research today on “Dickens Homelessness” on Google we found this blog post which does a great job of laying out how Dickens addressed “houselessness” for women in his Victorian time period:
Expectations and Goals for the Home
Dickens opens the article with the expectations and goals of the house. A woman would be admitted under two conditions – 1) she agreed to emigration to one of the colonies – likely Australia or South Africa and 2) she would agree to stay in “the Home” the prescribed length of time deemed necessary to ensure her success. Dickens went on to explain the goals of the cottage. There were two of those as well – 1) to repair women already fallen and 2) to save others by giving an opportunity to escape lives of crime. Dickens goes on to clearly explain that neither he nor the other benefactors expected the project to be one of “romantic visions and extravagant expectations.” He and the others involved were prepared for many failures and disappointments.
Results Are the Only Things That Matter
He begins the body of the article by recounting the statistical results of “the Home” up to that point. He clearly reveals that the house was a success before he reveals the day-to-day operations because the operations were so contrary to the accepted practices of the day. Dickens wanted to ensure that his readers knew that the house worked before they criticized its procedures. At the time of the article, “the Home” had housed fifty-six inmates. These women were from all walks of life, but they were all characterized by “misfortune and distress.” The average age was twenty and most were marked by ignorance (a lack of education). Of these fifty-six; seven went away of their own will; ten were thrown out; three emigrated but relapsed on the trip; and thirty had emigrated and could be counted as successes. Seven of those thirty were married, and the others had entered service.
If we truly look deeply into today’s Housing First approaches we may see some of the same expectations (being prepared for “many failures and disappointments“) & a focus on “Results Are the Only Things That Matter“!
- Are we blaming the victim(s) in Savannah? | Filling in the Outlines of a Dickens Character, This One Real – NYTimes.com (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)