Interesting comparison of two photographers from the "one step ahead of photographing the homeless" school.
I think I get a different impression from comparing the two photographs you've specifically introduced than I do from the portfolios I've looked at. Of the two photographs, I by far prefer the Gedney for its lighting and composition. The Adams photo, by comparison I'd think of as being a contrived snapshot with few qualities to mark this out as the work of a photographer rather than a random person with a camera.
But looking at wider portfolios evens things up a lot in my view. Sure some of the trappings are different but that's because there's thirty years between the photographs and even though the people are continuingly poor their lives have changed a lot in that time. I can't say that the meaning or purpose of either set of photographs is at all clear to me though. and whether they are campaigning photojournalism, detached documentary or downright exploitative isn't a judgment I'm able to make. Which isn't a strength of either portfolio in my view.