22. Governing the Streets: The Legal, Social and Moral Regulation of Homeless Youth

This article explores the ways in which homeless youth have become subject to various forms of legal, social and moral regulation. Shaped by the current political climate, this article examines how interventions targeting homeless youth have evolved, placing increased emphasis upon individual responsibility, accountability and self-discipline. It is argued that while law enforcement continues to regulate the behaviours of youth, the role of shelters cannot be ignored as they also play an influential role in guiding and shaping youth into responsible citizens. Examining the current responses to youth homelessness, it is revealed how economic focused social policy has turned youth homelessness into a specific “individualized” problem, ignoring the structural (systemic) factors that have long been associated with homelessness in general. This article concludes by suggesting that solving youth homelessness will require that policymakers acknowledge that the fight against homelessness is a fight against poverty, unemployment and an unfair economy.

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Gaetz, Stephen
O’Grady, Bill
Buccieri, Kristy
Karabanow, Jeff
Marsolais, Allyson
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory On Homelessness