Kathryn Hansel


Homelessness is a perennial problem in the United States and has been analyzed using many theoretical frameworks. The issue has also been a contentious one for courts and continues to be the subject of numerous suits today. Many jurisdictions in the United States have enacted laws that prevent homeless people from legally existing within those jurisdictions; these laws effectively criminalize being homeless. These statutes have spawned lawsuits alleging violations of homeless people's rights. This Comment examines homelessness and its interaction with the law through the lens of citizenship. It argues that the legal paradigm in the United States denies homeless people full citizenship and membership in communities. Court decisions that rule on rights-based challenges to these laws reinforce the exclusion of the homeless from the public, even when they ostensibly rule for homeless plaintiffs, by restricting homeless people's ability to take advantage of these decisions and denying homeless people the same menu of rights that exist for people with residences.