The homeless: An overlooked population where critical geography and intersectional feminism meet

Bogdan Cvetkovic, Fordham University


The United States is home to many vulnerable populations including the elderly, disabled, and children. Perhaps the most vulnerable population is the homeless. Whether they became homeless through losing their jobs because of economic hardships, living a life of extreme poverty, or because they have drug addictions and mental instability, homeless people face many economic and legal hardships. They have almost nowhere to go, are often alone, and even those with families can support them for only so long. Homeless shelters can give only temporary safety and alone cannot solve America’s national homeless issue.^ What are the main causes of homelessness? My hypothesis is the following: homelessness is mostly caused by poverty. However, poverty usually does not cause homelessness on its own. Usually, in America and New York City, homelessness is caused by poverty aggravated by various forms of discrimination such as systemic racism, sexism, and heteronormativity (the discrimination of LGBT and other non-straight people). Why is homelessness not caused only by poverty? Why is homelessness not caused only by discrimination? Poverty on its own is a daily grind that puts people on the edge of homelessness, and while homelessness is poverty taken to the extreme, poverty on its own is not enough to cause homelessness. Usually homelessness is caused by major blows in life, the most frequent being drug addiction and mental illness. Poverty plays a more insidious role, undermining a person’s abilities and resources to cope with life’s blows. A middle class person has both the money to afford counseling and medication and an intact family for emotional support. A poor person is less likely to have either.^ Racism and sexism are both insidious erosions that drag a person down into poverty and help cause calamities that happen more to nonwhites, women, and LGBT people. Such examples include a black man losing his mortgage, and thus his home because of racism, a woman fleeing an abusive spouse because of sexism, or an LGBT youth being cast out from her home because of her sexuality. In addition, nonwhites, women, and LGBT people tend to be poorer than their white, male, and straight counterparts, increasing the likelihood of poverty and the depth of that poverty.^ The literature review is taken from research done on homelessness both throughout America in general and New York City in particular. My research studies homelessness through two disciplines: critical geography and intersectional feminism. Both will be used in my analyses of the data I collected to produce a new interpretation. My thesis includes two main ideas: 1) Homelessness is a growing American problem due to the economic crises caused by neoliberal politics and globalism, which sink lower class people deeper into poverty. 2) People are rendered invisible and Othered part of American society through multiple forms of oppression or intersections, such as class, urban location, race, gender, and sexuality. These realities especially apply to homeless people. Both aforementioned ideas are tightly interrelated and frequently reinforce each other, a point I will illustrate throughout my thesis.^

Subject Area

Social research|Social sciences education|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Cvetkovic, Bogdan, "The homeless: An overlooked population where critical geography and intersectional feminism meet" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10189433.