Out of Bounds: San Francisco's Homeless Policies


Homelessness, both a legal and public policy issue, has dominated the City of San Francisco government agenda for over fifteen years. Despite the front-and-center nature of homelessness, the policies enacted have done little to reduce the count. This paper, first, presents San Francisco’s new approach to the issue; namely, the creation of a new and far more limited class of “chronically homeless” persons. This first section includes an examination of the causes of homelessness, the physical alienation of homeless persons through “quality of life” laws, and recent policy initiatives used to social exclude the bulk of homeless persons by limiting the definition to a narrow few. In the second section, the paper examines alienation scholarship, exploring how and why certain groups are excluded. With roots in law and economic scholarship and critical race theory, the conclusion reached is that the City of San Francisco has used law and policy to exclude homeless persons based on their inability to participate in the market economy.


Civil Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Human Rights Law | Land Use Law | Law | Law and Politics | Law and Society | Public Law and Legal Theory | Social Welfare Law | State and Local Government Law

Date of this Version

April 2005