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How It WorksRecovering Citizens in Post-Welfare Philadelphia$
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Robert P. Fairbanks

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226234083

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226234113.001.0001

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“How It Works”: The Basic Architecture of the Kensington Recovery House System

“How It Works”: The Basic Architecture of the Kensington Recovery House System

(p.65) 2 “How It Works”: The Basic Architecture of the Kensington Recovery House System
How It Works

Robert P. Fairbanks

University of Chicago Press

This chapter begins with a brief policy history of welfare reform legislation in Pennsylvania, the perhaps unintended wellspring of the recovery house movement. This is followed by an exploration of the informal categories of recovery houses that have developed—however inadvertently—from the Pennsylvania Welfare Reform Act of 1982. In the aftermath of welfare reform, street-level entrepreneurs have achieved economic sustainability through the advent of informal administrative techniques in welfare provision. The chapter sketches how welfare entrepreneurialism has produced an informal social service delivery system that operates simultaneously as a predatory and an informal rental market. It explores how welfare reform in Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the broader policy climate of the 1980s, created an inadvertent wellspring for street-level operators such as Malik. These historical conditions would ultimately produce an elaborate framework of informal welfare administration in Philadelphia's most notorious areas of spatially concentrated poverty.

Keywords:   recovery houses, Philadelphia, welfare reforms, social services, entrepreneurs, poverty

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