On January 3, 2022, Christian Siener, term assistant professor of urban studies, published new research in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, titled “Homeless shelters and the blues.” In this journal article, Siener examines the emergence of homeless shelter infrastructure in New York City.
Using archival sources and government documents, Siener first analyzes homeless policy and infrastructural changes. He then uses oral histories conducted with men living in NYC homeless shelters as “blues geographies” to further explore these carceral (jail- or prison-like) spaces. Professor Siener’s findings reveal that shelter residents actively challenge the material conditions, relations, and values that establish homeless shelters as essential to society. He argues that homeless shelter residents narrate carceral spaces as abolitionist spaces in order to resist the naturalization of shelters and the label “homeless.”