Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Earth & Environmental Sciences


Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Committee Members

Marianna Pavlovskaya

Monica Varsanyi

Subject Categories

Geography | Political Economy


Carceral state, political economy, homeless shelters, race, class, gender


At this time of increasing housing insecurity, recent reforms in homeless shelter policy have attracted the attention of scholars and activists. This research sheds light on these changes by placing them in historical and political-geographic perspective, focusing on the role of homeless shelters in stabilizing social displacement by destabilizing solidarity. It demonstrates historical continuity between prisons and homeless shelters in New York City through a case study of conditions surrounding the transition of Camp LaGuardia, a prison that slowly transformed into the city’s largest, and longest lasting, homeless shelter. The case study is an empirical demonstration of some of the theoretical underpinnings of an increasingly punitive and regulatory state, its class, race, and gender dimensions, and its rhetorical classification of itself as diminishing, aspects of social structural change that Ruth Wilson Gilmore describes as built on prison foundations. The research argues from a position and program of abolition.