New thoughts on an old problem

Homelessness is not an issue normally associated with places like Minneapolis. This city is relatively prosperous, has cold winters and is in an overwhelmingly white, northern state. But homelessness has moved up the agenda for many American mayors in the past couple of years. With property foreclosures surging, homeless advocates worry that the problem will grow. They also voice concerns about the number of returning veterans with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Big cities have long grappled with the issue, and say they are making progress. San Francisco was in the news this month for sending teams of social workers, psychologists and police on a sweep for homeless people. Places as diverse as Nashville, Anchorage and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have adopted ten-year plans aimed at eliminating long-term homelessness.

Several factors are driving the movement. The first is a better understanding of the homeless population. Despite the perception that it consists mostly of single men with drug, alcohol or mental-health problems, the majority are families, singles or young people who simply cannot afford housing, says Nan Roman at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The group reckons that 600,000 families with 1.35m children experience homelessness each year, accounting for about half of the national total. Many are in dire need for a relatively short time, living in shelters for just days or weeks. But research shows that a hard core-some estimates put it at about 10% of the total-is chronically homeless.

With better understanding of the group’s diversity, new approaches are being used. Much current thinking about homelessness is based on the work of Dennis Culhane, currently at the University of Pennsylvania, who followed thousands of homeless people in New York several years ago. Each of them used up an average of $40,000 a year in public services, such as hospital care and jail time. When half of the group was offered public housing (coupled with services such as counselling) that group’s time in hospital and prison fell dramatically. The net result was a big improvement in the problem at little extra net cost.
About 40 communities around the country have since attempted to emulate the scheme. The approach is also backed by Philip Mangano, who heads the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a federal body. All this is a departure from traditional means of dealing with the homeless, which Mr Mangano says are either too soft or too tough. Some communities, he admits, are still using heavy-handed police tactics. “The punitive approach has never worked anywhere,” he says. Instead, it simply tends to shuffle the homeless out of sight for a month or two.

Nevertheless, the police have an important role to play in preventing crimes against those living on the streets, he says.

The Economist, 18 October 2007

I. VERSION (sur 20 points)

Traduire depuis : « Homelessness is not an issue normally associated… » jusqu’à « …a sweep for homeless people. »
(de la ligne 1 à la ligne 7)

II. QUESTIONS (sur 40 points)

1. Question de compréhension du texte

In what ways are homeless policies changing in US cities?
(150 mots + ou – 10%* ; sur 20 points)

2. Question d’expression personnelle

“Housing problems have become the number one social issue in the developed world.” Discuss and illustrate.
(250 mots + ou – 10%* ; sur 20 points)

Le non respect de ces normes sera sanctionné. (Indiquer le nombre de mots sur la copie après chaque question).

III. THEME (sur 20 points)

1. Dommage que tu n’aies pas pu le convaincre de venir.

2. Si intelligent qu’il soit, il échouera s’il ne fournit pas davantage d’efforts.

3. Connaître la culture du pays n’est-il pas aussi utile que d’en parler la langue ?

4. Si on lui avait demandé conseil, nos finances ne seraient pas aussi préoccupantes.

5. Les pourparlers ayant échoué, ils sont susceptibles de faire grève.

6. On donnera un jour de congé à tout employé ayant travaillé dimanche dernier.

7. Cela vaut-il la peine d’assister à la réunion ? On peut en douter.

8. Je me demande ce qu’elle a ; elle ne répond plus à mes courriels depuis une semaine.

9. Nos ventes repartiront dès que notre nouveau parfum sera commercialisé.

10. Les solutions les plus évidentes sont-elles nécessairement les moins onéreuses ?

Sujet publié grâce à l’aimable collaboration de notre collègue François Labreuche