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Smith's research focuses on homelessness, inequality, social policy, and social movements. Smith’s overarching themes in writings include methodological issues related to “point-in-time” homeless counts, health issues among Hispanic immigrants in low-income housing, public policy, social movements, and activism related to the homeless. Smith serves as a board member of a national conference called the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology.
Explores point in time methodology focusing on visible street homeless individuals and those in shelters while neglecting the “marginally housed” or less visible homeless who live in automobiles or temporarily stay with friends and extended family. Explains how they replicated HUD’s PIT count, but additionally targeted the marginally housed to improve traditional methods of counting the homeless in various ways.
Describes social service workers’ creation and negotiation of what we term "fitting stories" according to Michael Lipsky’s concept of street-level bureaucrats who exert considerable discretionary power in the performance of their roles as they negotiate between homeless clients and institutional gatekeepers. Elaborates on how outreach workers respond to barriers to qualifying their clients for housing.
Discusses how protestors during the Occupy movement in El Paso, Texas, argued that the homeless exemplified an important segment of the 99%, which gave the homeless people a different identity. Elaborates on how homeless people even credit the activities they carried with the Occupy El Paso movement for helping them recover from addiction and their eventual attainment of housing.