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    Complaint-Oriented “Services”: Shelters as Tools for Criminalizing Homelessness

    The Annals of the American Academy

    Year: 2021

    This article argues that the expansion of shelter and welfare provisions for the homeless can lead to increased criminalization of homeless people in public spaces. First, I document how repression of people experiencing homelessness by the police in San Francisco neighborhoods increased immediately after the opening of new shelters. Second, I reveal how shelter beds are used as a privileged tool of the police to arrest, cite, and confiscate property of the unhoused, albeit in the guise of sanitary and public health initiatives. I conclude by considering how shelters increasingly function as complaint-oriented “services,” aimed at addressing the interests of residents, businesses, and politicians, rather than the needs of those unhoused.

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