Skid Row grew to be the center of attention because of the increasing homeless population. Fewer and fewer men rode the rails, and even within cities many of the homeless never left a bounded geographic area. By the 1940s technological changes had massively reduced the demand for unskilled labor. As a result, the hobo and the tramp were gradually disappearing.

The interaction of several local factors, including housing regulations and the availability of public and low-rent housing, zoning, and work programs, are at play in any given situation. These local issues along with the obliteration of skid-row regions and single room occupancy living units in the 1960s and 1970s caused "hidden" street people to become vastly visible. In 1987, the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act appropriated money to provide some housing for the homeless, subsidies for existing shelters, and subsidies for a variety of rehabilitation programs.

The new homeless were no longer concentrated in Skid Row (Rossi 390). In 1978, decorative benches and seats were removed from some outdoor and indoor locations to curb their use as bedrooms, and public bathrooms were being locked in many cities. Street homelessness formed the heart of the new homeless population.