Homelessness, American style

Don Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This study traces the historical geography of homelessness in America. It provides a synoptic overview of the production of homelessness in the United States and the varying urban and national responses to homelessness that have resulted (both cultural responses generally and policy and legal responses more particularly). Surveying changing policies and practices from the colonial period to the present, the author explains how homelessness in the United States has developed and changed, and why it has taken the specific social form that it has. Focusing not on homeless people themselves, and not on the experience of homelessness by those people who are un-housed, but rather on how the societal condition of homelessness-the discourses, practices, laws, and events that shape the nature of homelessness as a social fact-has evolved in the United States, this article suggests that there is a specifically American "style" to homelessness. It concludes by raising the question of whether, with the globalization of neoliberal modes of economy and regulation, such a style is now beginning to appear in other national contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-956
Number of pages24
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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