Are Tent Cities an Illusion of Success? Clients’ Perceptions of Neoliberalism Strategies

Author(s): Francisco J. Alatorre

The term, neoliberalism has been used to describe the overarching political and economic framework in which services for the poor living outside institutional life has operated for roughly the past 30 years. This implies a unified intent to “manage the poor” to benefit the larger society, in particular the business sector and the wealthy which are the key actors in society according to neoliberal doctrine. This paper explores and questions the conventional ideology of “managing the poor” and thus inquires further about the identified objectives of such management: whether such programs are intended to help the homeless re-establish themselves or prevent them from impinging on the wealthier classes. This questioning is done by reporting on and analyzing the experiences of twenty homeless people who are currently being “managed” by services provided by the agency Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This agency, reflecting Neoliberal doctrines, has created and manages a tent city which provides services for people who are homeless and near homeless. These services include showers, laundry, mail, voice mail, phone, lockers, case management, training programs, and donated goods, including clothing, shoes, hygiene products and household goods. MVCH also has various housing programs including transitional and permanent housing for people who are homeless. The findings derived from the interviewed participants reveal that “the managed” provide a contrasting view with those who assess neoliberalism practices as only benefiting society.


Journal: Open Journal of Social Sciences
DOI: 10.4236/jss.2016.411010 (PDF)
Paper Id: 72270 (metadata)

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