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Private Dwelling in Public Space: Edmonton's Tent City Open Access


Other title
public space
Housing First
the public
Tent City
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Black, Erin Jennifer
Supervisor and department
Harder, Lois (Political Science)
Examining committee member and department
Patten, Steve (Political Science)
Ziff, Bruce (Law)
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
How are homeless individuals, who have no access to private space yet still have the same needs of dwelling as the rest of us, regarded when they exercise their right to dwell? This question guided my research of Edmonton’s Tent City, which emerged during the summer of 2007. Interviews with twenty-two individuals, including with encampment residents, service providers, and state officials, informed a broader understanding of why the encampment emerged at the time that it did; how Edmonton’s public spaces accommodate the homeless; and, how Tent City shaped municipal and provincial policy on housing and homelessness. Homeless campers saw Tent City as “home,” while state management focused on excluding homeless campers from the downtown public space to restore order to the streets of Edmonton, as well as their positive public image. Tent City constituted a claim by homeless campers to occupy public space and be represented as part of “the public” but hitherto this has been met with increased strategies of dispersement and exclusion rather than with an expansion of citizenship rights. I argue that Tent City illuminates the state’s preoccupation with regulating the visibility of homeless individuals rather than focusing on the dwelling needs of homeless campers.
License granted by Erin Black ( on 2010-08-16T18:24:33Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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