DESIGNER SHELTERS AS MODELS AND MAKERS OF HOME: NEW RESPONSES TO HOMELESSNESS IN URBAN AMERICA
ABSTRACT As the number of homeless people grew over the 1980s, so did the number of homeless shelters. Given that these recently established shelters are smaller, more specialized, and tend to assist those segments of the homeless population more likely to be mainstreamed, they are intentionally designed to be a model of a middle-class home for the people they serve. This paper examines the process by which designer shelters became part of the contemporary urban scene. It explores the notion that in and through these institutions poor and homeless people are being told how to live. Evidence of how designer shelters have become a model of a middle-class home, and how designer shelters reproduce this model through their policies and practices, is gathered from various sources. City planning documents and shelter mission statements obtained from Wilmington, Delaware illustrate the process of creating model homemakers out of homeless people. Some of the spatial and social implications of this process are discussed.
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ABSTRACT: This article explores homeless men's visits to a public library. It shows how homeless men identified the library as a space for safety and social participation, at a time when the regional newspaper published an item questioning the appropriateness of their presence in the library. The news report promotes universal narratives that would exclude homeless people, showing the intimate relationship between the symbolic space of news, the material space of the local library, and the lifeworlds of homeless men. We report fieldwork in which we interviewed homeless men, library staff and patrons. In addition, we worked with journalists on follow-up articles foregrounding the positive function of the library in homeless men's lives, and to challenge existing news narratives that advocate the exclusion of 'the homeless' from prime public spaces.Social & Cultural Geography 01/2008; · 1.28 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Emergency shelter is an important resource for women experiencing a housing crisis. However, the outcomes are uncertain for women served within programs intended to provide relief and safety in times of crises. Are shelters more a function of social control or a function of assisting women to secure housing and employment? This article presents the findings from a study of sheltering programs in Ohio. These shelters appear to reproduce and reinforce women's place in society by requiring compliance with rules and social services that strengthen the social control of women and restrict their choices and mobility for positive housing and employment.Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 01/2010; 20(2):289-302.
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ABSTRACT: In this symposium convened to celebrate the tenth anniversary of David Harvey's "Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference", it is fitting to re-visit key themes in that seminal work, including: (1) the mutual reciprocity between social and environmental changes; and (2) the contradictions that emerge from a dialectical analysis of these changes in urban spaces. In challenging scholars to explore the spatial dialectics associated with environmental and social changes, Harvey's political and intellectual project included demonstrating the dialectical linkages between notions of justice and nature in urban environments. My work responds to Harvey's challenge by documenting how the ideological constructions of "home", "homeless" and "public green space" produce and perpetuate injustices experienced materially and spatially in the daily lives of homeless people living in urban green spaces. Using Agamben's notion of bare life as my analytic framework, I explore two issues: (1) the disconnection between notions of home articulated by homeless people living in green spaces and the ideological constructions of homeless espoused by government and planning agencies; and (2) the tensions in urban green spaces resulting from homeless people who have opted to live there because all other options are not viable for them, and the ideological constructions of urban green spaces developed by the city parks department and housed citizens involved in planning for future green spaces in the city. I present the concept of "ecological gentrification", which I define as the implementation of an environmental planning agenda related to public green spaces that leads to the displacement or exclusion of the most economically vulnerable human population - homeless people - while espousing an environmental ethic. I conclude by advocating a robust pluralism of "home" and "public green spaces" as an initial movement towards renegotiating concepts of justice in urban areas. I present short- and long-term strategies for resisting the displacement, exclusion and expulsion of homeless individuals from public urban green spaces with the goal of improving their material and spatial lives, and argue that such strategies require a re-imagined practice of urban ecological planning that draws inspiration from Harvey's commitment to producing spaces of justice, nature and difference. Copyright (c) 2009 The Author. Journal Compilation (c) 2009 Joint Editors and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 01/2009; 33(3):621-639. · 1.54 Impact Factor