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TO JAN. 31, 2000
Don’t let the inclusion of celebrity photographers like Tipper Gore, Annie Leibovitz, and Mary Ellen Mark skew your perceptions of “The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America.” Whether in black and white or color, the exhibit’s photographs documenting homelessness in more than a dozen cities are ultra-gritty. (Gore’s South Carthage, Tennessee is pictured.) The most interesting images shed light on obscure symptoms of not having a place to live. In Boston, Betsy Frampton discovers that foot problems are rife among the homeless: One clinic she visits performs minor miracles simply by having its visitors wash their feet and then providing them with new socks. Several photographers note the hassle of carrying all one’s possessions at all times; I wondered whether shelters could provide low-cost storage space and thus make it easier for homeless people who need it to ease their way into jobs or substance-abuse treatment. And in prosperous Minneapolis-St. Paul, Joseph Rodriguez reveals—astonishingly—that 35 percent of the local homeless population is employed, a reality that brings with it a need for a new set of policy responses. As you might expect from a show co-organized by an interest group, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the focus here is on programs that work and cost the taxpayer relatively little; homeless people with severe mental illnesses and little hope of mainstreaming are strikingly—and disappointingly—absent. Even so, the show’s mere existence in our otherwise flush times is a bold—and much-needed—statement. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Monday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, to Monday, Jan. 31, 2000, at the Corcoran Museum of Art, 500 17th St. NW. $3 (suggested donation). (202) 639-1700. (Louis Jacobson)