Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Matthew Marr, PhD

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kevin Grove, PhD

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Mark Padilla, PhD

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Asia Eaton, PhD

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


homelessness, neoliberalism, housing first, policing, governance

Date of Defense



In 2019 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that 567,715 people experience homelessness in the United States on a single night (HUD 2019). This is the third year in a row that number has risen following a seven-year decline ending in 2016. Scholars have demonstrated that the causes of homelessness are primarily structural, including lack of affordable housing, living wage, and social safety net (Hopper et al 1985), issues which have been exacerbated since the expansion of neoliberalism in the late 1970s (Harvey 2005). While city strategies have varied from criminalization to medicalization (NCH and NLCHP 2006; Lyon-Callo 2000), cities have been increasingly following HUD’s recommended Housing First guidelines which suggest permanently housing chronically homeless persons and rapid rehousing of episodically homeless families. Some scholars emphasize urban revanchism and a punitive turn since neoliberalism, yet others emphasize new or persisting forms of care. However, fewer studies have demonstrated how the two approaches, criminalization and care, and other techniques, coexist and work together. In this sense, Miami is an important case study due to its history of criminalization which culminated in a class action lawsuit in 1992, after which it became a cited model of Housing First success (HUD 2010). Yet, Miami still has a large, stable homeless population, and city officials have persistently pursued criminalization measures. I examine the governance of homelessness in Miami utilizing ethnographic methods, including participant observation, interviews, and documents analysis. I contribute to literature on power, governance, and the management of vulnerable populations by challenging current work which prioritizes either criminalization or care by demonstrating how criminalization, care, and other strategies of governance co-exist and relate through the case study of Miami. In this way, I problematize techniques of care, considering their contribution to neoliberal governmentality. I also aim to have broader impacts with this study by foregrounding the need to address structural causes of homelessness—such as lack of affordable housing, living wage, and social safety net—rather than just buffering the issues or even benefiting from these issues through knowledge and service economies.





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