Homeless, Shelters, Judicial Review
This paper examines the recent Canadian judicial decisions in relation to the eviction of encampment residents from public space to analyze what constitutes “reasonableness” in government decision-making in relation to short-term shelters. I argue that courts have called into question a key aspect of social control that relates to unhoused populations: the institutional belief that temporary shelters serve as a reasonable form of accommodation and an appropriate alternative to living in encampments. Recent legal decisions have challenged both this institutional belief and the methods used by officials to track which shelters are available. I conclude that the legal approach of using judicial review of administrative decision-making provides a means to challenge administrative decision-making that insufficiently scrutinizes the availability of accessible and appropriate shelter spaces for the specific unhoused people they intend to displace, raising the bar on shelter suitability. Judicial review of administrative decision-makers, a form of legal evaluation, offers a tool to confront what Katuna and Silfen-Glasberg (2014) call an “incompetence of rules” in the social control of those living in encampments.
Alexandra Flynn, "Social Control and Homeless Encampments: Shifting the Role of Shelters Through Judicial Review", Soc & Leg Stud [forthcoming in 2024].