Illustration of unhoused people
Hosted by: Chris Herring, PhD


This Stress, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR) Seminar will provide an overview of the causes and consequences of policing homelessness and alternative solutions drawn from a case study of San Francisco. This presentation will draw from a decade of ethnographic research that integrates multiple perspectives. This includes: time embedded in encampments and nights in shelters with those experiencing homelessness; and navigating the criminal, legal, and welfare systems with the houseless, police officers, sanitation workers, and the Department of Public Health's social workers. The first part of the presentation will examine and reveal the mechanisms through which consistent punitive interactions, including move-along orders, citations, and destruction of property, systematically limit homeless people’s access to services, housing, and jobs, while damaging their health, safety, and wellbeing. The second part of the presentation will reveal the bureaucratic collateral damage of criminalization, detailing how policing infects and undermines the work of medical and social workers.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Describe the negative impacts of criminalizing homelessness on the unhoused, and its resulting stress and trauma
  • List key causes of policing homelessness and new enforcement tactics being used to skirt recent legal rulings
  • Assess how criminalizing homelessness interferes with and undermines the work of medical care and welfare providers
  • Explain recent alternative responses to policing homelessness