Homeless youth and the politics of redevelopment

Hyde, J.

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Hyde, J. (2000). Homeless youth and the politics of redevelopment. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 23(1), 73–85.


Main finding
The author documents underlying conditions of adolescent homelessness and the effects of Hollywood's Business Improvement District (BID) policies on their right to public space. Interviews with homeless youth reveal a commonality of trauma in their lives, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The author views substance abuse as a symptom of homelessness, not a cause. However, strategies of the BID, which include providing private security and supporting policies that prohibit public sleeping and loitering, center on simply removing the homeless population from the district. These strategies have led to an unwelcoming and abusive environment for homeless youth. Private security in particular has created a hostile environment for them, namely through harassment, threats, and physical abuse. The author lists efforts underway to support service providers, to increase civil right awareness, and to build relationships with law enforcement, but the results of these efforts are unclear.

Description of method used in the article
The author conducted two years of research to investigate the social, economic, and political aspects of adolescent homelessness. She conducted 20 semi-structured and 45 life history interviews with homeless adolescents, and 10 semi-structured interviews with police officers and social service providers. She also volunteered every week at drop-in centers and needle exchange programs, and participated in a variety of community and business association meetings.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Crime and Aggression
Interviews Participant Observation
Physical types
Geographic locations