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Data on the homeless in France were obtained from two surveys conducted in Paris and a recent national survey. What emerges from these surveys of homeless people is their social proximity to other people who are living in conditions of poverty. The findings draw attention to the diversity of the individuals involved. Both contextual factors (e.g., industrial restructuring) and individual handicaps (e.g., poor education and living conditions during childhood) must be taken into account in order to explain why some people are at greater risk than others of losing their home. The findings suggest that preventive policy must not just focus on keeping people in their homes, but also contribute to the more general struggle against all aspects of poverty.