Learning Objectives

In this chapter, you are invited to think about how homelessness is a social issue that plays out in public. Like the man in the fountain, homelessness is often on display because people lack a private space in which to bathe, eat, sleep, and generally just live. While considering homelessness as a public social issue, you are encouraged to reflect upon three key questions guiding this chapter’s learning objectives.


  1. We begin by asking, ‚ÄúAre all people who experience homelessness street-involved?‚ÄĚ The public image of homelessness perhaps is in line with the news clip shown above. In this section, you are encouraged to learn and reflect upon what it means to be street-involved and to gain a deeper understanding of how this term applies to some ‚Äď but not all ‚Äď persons experiencing homelessness.


  1. The discussion of street-involved homelessness, then leads us to examine the question, ‚ÄúWhat is the criminalization of homelessness?‚ÄĚ It is noteworthy that in the news video above, the response was to involve more police officers, with the subtitle reading, ‚ÄúNYPD to train more officers on how to better deal with emotionally disturbed people.‚ÄĚ In this section, you will be presented with information that challenges the notion of homelessness as a policing matter and asked to question whether there are more appropriate and humane responses.


  1. Efforts to police and criminalize homelessness are often undertaken in the name of community safety. We conclude this chapter by exploring alternate approaches to criminalization through the question, ‚ÄúHow can communities implement better support programs?‚ÄĚ In this section, you are encouraged to consider what we can do at a community level to support people experiencing homelessness, without enacting a law-and-order approach.


As you move through this chapter it is beneficial to keep in mind people who experience homelessness often engage in private acts in public not because they want to, but because they lack a private space in which to go. Punishing people for bathing in public is essentially punishing them for not having a home. Read on to learn more about street-involvement, the resulting criminalization of homelessness, and alternate measures that we can take up within communities to improve quality of life for all residents.


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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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