Do Criminalization Policies Impact Local Homelessness? Exploring the Limits and Concerns of Socially Constructed Deviancy

32 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2024

See all articles by Hannah Lebovits

Hannah Lebovits

The University of Texas at Arlington

Andrew Sullivan

University of Central Florida

Date Written: February 4, 2024

Abstract

Local criminalization policies levy costs on individuals who engage in behaviors that are constructed as socially deviant. Although these ordinances present social equity concerns in both the policy design and implementation processes, municipal actors use a deterrence rationality to justify their passage. To delve deeper into this logic, this article focuses on a sub-set of criminalization policies – anti-homeless ordinances – and utilizes a difference-in-difference model to identify if passing an ordinance criminalizing behaviors closely related to homelessness produces a subsequent decrease in homelessness within a community. Contrary to the deterrence logic, the results indicate that local anti-homeless ordinances cannot be relied upon to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. To explain the continued passage of these ordinances, the authors argue that socially constructed criminality shapes both the policy design and implementation functions of the administrative state as well as the assessment and evaluation functions.

Keywords: public policy, homeless, local government, social equity, social construction

JEL Classification: H75, R10

Suggested Citation

Lebovits, Hannah and Sullivan, Andrew, Do Criminalization Policies Impact Local Homelessness? Exploring the Limits and Concerns of Socially Constructed Deviancy (February 4, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4716230 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4716230

Hannah Lebovits

The University of Texas at Arlington ( email )

Nedderman Hall
Arlington, TX TEXAS 76019
United States

Andrew Sullivan (Contact Author)

University of Central Florida ( email )

4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States

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