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The Annihilation of Space by Law: The Roots and Implications of Anti-Homeless Laws in the United States

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Abstract:

There is a link between changes in the contemporary political economy and the criminalization of homelessness. Anti-homeless legislation can be understood as an attempt to annihilate the spaces in which homeless people must live, and perform everyday functions. This annihilation is a response to the economic uncertainty produced by the current political economy. The process of criminalizing homelessness 1) destroys the very right of homeless people to be; and 2) reinforces particularly brutal notions of citizenship within the public sphere. Such laws are made possible when urban government and surrounding communities and elites seek to promote the urban landscape at the expense of urban public space. This usurpation of public space will have profound impact not only on homeless people but also on how the housed interact with each other.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8330.00048

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Publication date: 1997-07-01

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