Unsheltered & Undeserving: How Chronically Homeless Individuals are Discursively Constructed in Newspapers
Date of Award
Author Requested Restriction
Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)
Masters Capstone Project
Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MA)
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Homelessness arose as a public problem in the 1980s and led to the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the country’s first and only legislation to acknowledge homelessness and direct resources toward addressing it. The act has since inspired a national movement to end all types of homelessness by 2020 and chronic homelessness by 2015. A permanent supportive housing model known as Housing First, which provides government subsidized apartments and case management to chronically homeless individuals, is poised to play a crucial role in the movement. Given this, nine newspaper articles published in Tacoma, Washington’s The News Tribune and written on the topic of Tacoma’s Housing First & Encampment Elimination Project are analyzed as part of a case study that combined the methodologies of rhetorical analysis and critical discourse analysis in an effort to identify how social views about chronically homeless people and the Housing First model are reproduced in Tacoma through publications. The goal of the research is to encourage a change in discursive practices as they relate to chronically homeless people and the effort to end chronic homelessness. The research shows that in Tacoma, discourse pertaining to monetary savings and human rights is used to argue in support of Housing First. However, chronically homeless individuals are simultaneously portrayed in the discourse as responsible for their living conditions and therefore undeserving of housing. The research is significant because it calls attention to the societal values that impact the movement to end chronic homelessness and how those values are communicated in the public texts of newspapers.
Howard, Jacinda, "Unsheltered & Undeserving: How Chronically Homeless Individuals are Discursively Constructed in Newspapers" (2014). MAIS Projects and Theses. 22.