City Sterilization and Poverty Management

Examining a Mobility Hub in the “Redevelopment and Enhancement” of Downtown Tallahassee

in Transfers


People experiencing homelessness use service centers, shelters, missions, and other voluntary organizations to access material resources and social networks. Because these service hubs have a dense array of resources, people sometimes incorporate them into their daily movements around urban space, which results in patterns or tendencies called mobility systems. Drawing on participant observation, document analysis, and spatial analytics via geographic information systems (GIS), we describe the mobility system organized around one homeless services center in Tallahassee, Florida. Moreover, we present a case study of how this homeless services center was moved away from downtown to an upgraded facility to show how city administrators manage homeless mobility systems when they are deemed unsafe for downtown redevelopment. The case supports previous studies that found punitive and supportive strategies are used together, but adds how mobility and “network capital” can be used to evaluate center relocations in the future.

Tallahassee, Florida, is a city being redeveloped. A prototypical, contemporary American city, Tallahassee is being reorganized around experiential, service- and event-based production and consumption. Vibrant food districts, entertaining downtowns, hotel nights, tourist dollars, and property values are pursued in three distinct redevelopment areas. Within and between these postindustrial spaces, new connections are being sought—tram-catching tourists; food truck–perusing residents; students who walk to campus in the day and toward live music at night; and traveling politicians who live, work, and play downtown during the legislative session. As with other redeveloping cities, officials and business owners assure prospective tourists, residents, students, and politicians that the areas are “clean and safe.”1

In cities across the United States, similar assurances of safety have resulted in the sterilization of urban spaces, whereby certain bodies, such as those experiencing homelessness, are socially pathologized, made abject, and then excised from the downtown.2 Poverty and homelessness are rendered as threats, not only to consumers (and therefore entrepreneurs) but also to the meaning systems through which experience-based economic development is sustained and made possible.3 Business owners and public officials conspire to privatize public space, remove places to sit and sleep, criminalize panhandling, and remove social services.4 Increasingly, however, cities also provide new services, such as shelters and service centers, for those affected or forced into the open by the sterilizing process.5 By offering better services and facilities, administrators mix care with relocation, so punitive actions coexist with supportive responses to homelessness.6

Tallahassee is an exemplary case for studying this dual process of sterilization and support. In the late 1980s, the Tallahassee-Leon Shelter was built in a historically black district known as Frenchtown. In 2012, the Renaissance Community Center (RCC) was built on an adjacent property to house the growing services provided to the community. In 2000, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) identified both properties as part of a downtown redevelopment area. Soon after publishing a strategic development plan in 2013, the CRA purchased the land and, in May 2015, the RCC and shelter were officially closed and a new services center—the Kearney Center—was opened three miles away. At the well-attended ground breaking for the new center, Deborah Holt, chairman of the board for the Tallahassee-Leon Shelter, said:

This facility is a dream come true for the professionals, the advocates, and the volunteers who have worked in this community for 25 years to ameliorate the challenges of those experiencing homelessness. It will be a beacon for those who pass through its doors, a brilliant reminder that the community cares, that even though life is tough, there is hope; that being homeless today does not mean being homeless forever.7

In this article, we attempt to ameliorate the politics of relocation and service expansion in this regime of poverty management.

Urban and cultural geographers have analyzed these urban politics from a number of perspectives, including relationships between the law and police violence,8 and the exercise and reproduction of power.9 Here we employ the mobilities paradigm defined by Tim Cresswell as thinking and theorizing that “foregrounds mobility (of people, of ideas, of things) as a geographical fact that lies at the centre of constellations of power, the creation of identities and the micro-geographies of everyday life.”10 We use the mobilities paradigm to conceptualize social inclusion as the ability to connect in beneficial ways and then conceptualize service centers, like the RCC, as densely coordinated conections. Using geographic information system (GIS) analytics, participant observation, and document analysis, we describe the RCC as a mobility hub around which mobility systems were organized, and we consider how this mobility hub was managed alongside downtown redevelopment. Following our analysis, we speculate on how scholars can use the mobility paradigm to critically analyze and evaluate benevolent poverty management.

Urban Mobility Systems

Scholars have theorized and described how poverty and homelessness are governed using various perspectives. Michael Dear and Jennifer Wolch described welfare cities, with centralized resources, which, when coupled with inner-city decline, produced both the conditions for homelessness and the services to support them.11 Andrew Mair has described postindustrial cities sanitized of homelessness and theorized how people were expelled for threatening the “meaning systems” and “permanent spectacles” of event- and service-based commercial spaces.12 This expulsion was accompanied by what Susan Ruddick calls an “apocalyptic vision” from scholars who believed those experiencing homelessness would be removed with nowhere else to go.13

This worry was found to be overstated; Geoffrey DeVerteuil has most recently described managerial cities with services—including homeless shelters—to meet the needs of those moved by redevelopment.14

Poverty management, as DeVerteuil names the strategy of accommodating homelessness, poses a complicated phenomenon for critical scholars. The revanchist city that expelled and punished was an easy target for critique, whereas the managerial city—which expels and accommodates—is better able to justify relocating people. Instead of forcibly removing people from social networks and resource-rich locations as a punitive tactic, the point of contention is over the reprovisioning of “enhanced” and “expanded” resources at new locations—locations far away from downtowns, “tourist bubbles,” and the interests of growth coalitions.

Scholars have recently problematized this selective managerial approach. For instance, they critique “spaces of care,” such as shelters and drop-in centers, for utilizing “health affirmation,” “surveillance,” and “medicalization” techniques.15 Brian Hennigan and Teresa Gowan each show how seemingly progressive developments, like programming and “housing first” programs, retained paternalistic, disciplining, and authoritarian discourses.16 Tony Sparks adds that rehabilitative programs detract funding from need-based shelters and that many people avoid “spaces of care” because they are subjected to pathologization,17 or what Gowan calls “sick talk.”18 DeVerteuil, however, critiques these “grammars of urban injustice” and argues that punitive actions often depend on voluntary sectors’ provision of abeyance, care, and sustenance.19 “Abeyance” refers to when volunteers contain the homeless or shield them from other city-goers, “care” refers to when volunteers help people in need, and “sustenance” refers to when volunteers provide resources for clients to survive via their own agency. He argues:

We need to recognize that without the longstanding (as well as more recent) supportive logics at work in our cities, the impacts of the punitive (and to a certain extent the controlling) logics would be absolutely unbearable, and untenable. We would have totalitarianism (or lawlessness) in the streets without the presence of support both from the state and (especially) from the voluntary sector, in all of their complex and contradictory imperatives.20

DeVerteuil advocates for a nuanced analysis of how relocation and support complement each other, rather than assuming that support only conceals injustice. In this article, we analyze mobility hubs and systems in which hubs are imbricated. In turning to mobility, we illustrate a further variable that will help scholars understand the relationship between relocation and support.

Our conceptualization of a mobility hub is based on DeVerteuil’s definition of service hubs and Jonas Larsen and colleagues’ definition of network capital. DeVerteuil defines service hubs as “conspicuous concentrations of voluntary organizations … providing advantageous agglomeration effects for their clients, many of whom prize the maximized accessibility that a central location affords.”21 Larsen and colleagues define network capital as “the capacity to engender and sustain social relations with people who are not necessarily proximate and which generates emotional, financial and practical benefit.”22 We theorize service hubs as concentrations of network capital.

Network capital necessitates coordination, which is a labor-intensive achievement that can be either centralized or decentralized. Centralized coordination requires a “central hub” where network capital is coordinated, such as a website, a message board, or a community resource center. Users of centrally coordinated network capital must subscribe by moving to the network, or accessing it from afar. This draws from John Urry’s argument that movement itself is not as important as how it enables people to connect with each other.23 Connections and the patterns they form are the critical feature of contemporary life; therefore, movement and travel are important for making connections, extending networks, and maintaining existing ones. Users may organize their mobilities around hubs of network capital because these hubs offer a dense array of connections.

Social inclusion and exclusion can be reinterpreted in terms of access to network capital. Noel Cass and colleagues write that “social inclusion is significantly a matter of overcoming constraints of space at particular moments of time so as to gain access to the informal networks of work, leisure, friendship and family.”24 Moreover, according to the authors, contemporary society can be characterized by increased mobility burdens. Therefore, social inclusion is about maintaining networks—through transportation, communication, or information technologies—in the face of greater mobility demands.

In the context of urban homelessness, Wolch and colleagues have found that people move deliberately and their mobilities are determined by the availability and location of resources.25 Th ey argue that service centers, or hubs of network capital, are important for homeless peoples’ mobility systems because of resources provided within. Th eir work is also important for countering the idea that homeless mobility is aimless and wandering, as is implied in popular discourse. Matthew Marr and colleagues support the conclusion that homeless people are deliberately mobile; however, they add that unequal distributions of resources “pattern,” but do not determine, the survival of homeless persons. For example, whereas people in resource-rich spaces may rely on institutions, those living without accessible resources use “more makeshift, shadow work, and scavenging strategies.”26

Social support was found to be the most important resource, especially for recently homeless persons, who moved to and from resource centers and their “origin communities.”27 Along with service centers and social networks, scholars have identified many mobility systems homeless and urban poor use to multiply useful connections. Th ese include “foodways,” the cultural, social, and economic food practices and strategies of those who reside in food deserts, as well as complex “heterotopias of homelessness” in which people strategically occupy public spaces to insert themselves into political discourse.28

It is also important to note that—in light of studies showing wide variations in strategies, social networks, and use of space—people experiencing homelessness negotiate mobility differently according to their backgrounds and social identities.29

By “mobility system” we refer not to the specifics of each person’s daily mobile life, which are individual and complex, but to those tendencies and patterns developed over time whereby people seek centrally coordinated network capital, or hubs, for the purpose of establishing connections with material resources or social networks.30 Importantly, because these patterns are (for reasons real or discursively constructed) collective phenomena, a mobility system can also be an object of governance.31 This is likely if a mobility system is abjectified and perceived to encounter a contesting mobility system.32

Mapping Mobilities

To understand urban sterilization and poverty management in Tallahassee, we utilized multiple methods. Our first set of methods was designed to understand the RCC as a hub in clients’ mobility systems. Our second set of methods was used to understand how various stakeholders understood clients’ mobility as an object of poverty management.

Regarding the first goal, we used secondary data collected by volunteers working at the RCC. During a week in the spring of 2015, before the move, volunteers administered a survey during clients’ regular check-in process, resulting in 448 responses. The survey contained four questions:

  1. (1)Where did you stay last night?
  2. (2)What was the address where you stayed?
  3. (3)How did you travel to the RCC?
  4. (4)Where are you going after the RCC?

Th rough our partnership with the RCC, we obtained these survey data. Incomplete responses and declined answers were omitted (Q2 = 120; Q4 = 77) to give 328 observations for question 2 and 371 for question 4. We imported the data into ArcGIS Online, a GIS software program. Th rough geocoding, which is the process of creating map features from addresses, place names, or other geographic information, we were able to map clients’ mobility systems. Generated with basic descriptive statistics, we represented the straight-line distances traveled to and from the RCC.

Regarding the second goal, we performed a textual analysis of documents related to the relocation of the RCC and to the redevelopment of downtown Tallahassee. Th ese included program reports, development plans, news articles, webpages, and the “Downtown Tallahassee: Reconnaissance and Strategic Assessment” report. Our strategy was to outline the justifications for relocation and redevelopment in Tallahassee. Finally, before, during, and after the relocation, we served as volunteers in the RCC and as sport and physical activity programmers at both centers. All of our interpretations are informed by our experiences and observations playing sport with clients and discussing the move with service providers.

A Mobility Hub Case Study

In 2012, the RCC was built on West Virginia Street to consolidate the growing services provided at the neighboring shelter. The mission of the RCC was to act as “a host for local initiatives that work to address the unmet needs of the Frenchtown neighborhood.” To do this, the RCC was “a conduit in connecting individuals to the resources available through faith, secular, and government organizations,” and advocated on behalf of the community to ensure “access to quality health care, food, housing, education, and stable income.”33

Services included telephones, Internet, computers, shower and laundry facilities, information and referral services, travel assistance, medical care, case management, GED/literacy/life skills classes, physical activity and sport, legal advising, health testing, mental health outreach and treatment, and emergency services for individuals experiencing acute and chronic crises.

The RCC served not only clients residing at the shelter but also people in the surrounding area. For many, the RCC was a weekly or daily destination. It was often the first stop (or repeat stop) whereby clients might retrieve an item from storage, take a shower, request a bus pass, rendezvous with friends, meet with a case manager, or take respite from the weather. After accessing the RCC, clients often reported their next stop was also in the adjoining downtown area, which had voluntary organizations (churches and service centers), public services (transit, medical, and a library), and useful businesses (day laborer locations and a commercial and restaurant district) (Figure 1).

In addition to providing well-defined and advertised resources for community members, the RCC also served a social purpose. Friends and acquaintances met and congregated outside; for example, when we organized basketball games, many participants and spectators would choose to play, watch, or jeer without going in. This was the case for people currently residing in the shelter as well as those who lived in the surrounding Frenchtown neighborhood. For instance, two frequent participants were family members: one was residing in the shelter at the time, whereas the other lived within walking distance. The RCC was a useful place for them and others to connect because it was busy and sociable.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Map depicting RCC, shelter, and various resources in the local area (Tallahassee, Florida, 2016) (generated by Christopher McLeod using Google Maps).

Citation: Transfers 7, 3; 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070308

To show these connections, Figure 2 and Figure 3 represent the clients’ mobility systems based on the locations they identified as preceding and following their visit to the RCC. Figure 2 shows the straight-line distance traveled to the RCC, whereas Figure 3 shows the straight-line distance traveled from the RCC to the clients’ next destination.

As with studies by Wolch and colleagues and Marr and colleagues, it is important to note that many clients deliberately traveled to and from the RCC. Clients traveled an average of 0.57 miles to the RCC and of 0.42 miles from the RCC to their next location. Walking was the most frequent mode of transport, with 86 percent of clients walking to the center and 84 percent walking from the center to their next location. Clients traveled from houses, parks, streets, and the shelter next door. Importantly, 34.5 percent of clients came to the RCC from places other than the shelter, such as the local residential area (principally Frenchtown) and the nearby commercial district. After visiting the RCC, clients said they would travel to voluntary organizations, such as nearby missions for lunch; other service providers, such as health and family centers; public organizations, such as the nearby library; private businesses for work or to run errands; transit locations, such as the nearby bus exchange; and nearby spaces, including the parking lot and sidewalk in front of the RCC, where they could socialize or sit. Some also traveled across town to acquire

Figure 2
Figure 2

Distance traveled by clients to the RCC during one week in spring 2015 (Tallahassee, Florida) (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).

Citation: Transfers 7, 3; 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070308

Figure 3
Figure 3

Distance traveled by clients from the RCC to their next location during one week in spring 2015 (Tallahassee, Florida) (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).

Citation: Transfers 7, 3; 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070308

veteran’s health care or pharmaceuticals; they also traveled long distances to work, go to the police department, or receive care at the local hospital. One client was making his way to Alabama; he had stopped at the RCC on his way through Tallahassee.

The RCC was a mobility hub, a centrally coordinated manifestation of network capital. During one week in the spring of 2015, more than 448 visits were made to connect in and through the center, not including the social visits of nonclients who did not register or venture inside. Importantly, the RCC served people experiencing homelessness, people at risk of acute financial crisis, residents living in the local community, and travelers passing through. Using the language of Marr and colleagues’ place-survival nexus, the RCC occupied an important node in a resource-rich area, which bordered on the “prime space” of the commercial district. According to their typology, resource-rich spaces are usually in marginal urban space, or space with little use for “the socioeconomically well-off population, entrepreneurs and politicians for everyday, commercial and symbolic purposes.”34 However, as Marr and colleagues note, these spaces can be transformed into prime space through redevelopment and gentrification.

The Context of Relocation and Redevelopment

To understand the rationale for the relocation, it is important to consider the other mobility systems bordering, and envisioned for, the original RCC location. The RCC was inside an area selected by city and county commissioners of the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for “redevelopment and enhancement.”35 Specifically, it was within the Greater Frenchtown Community Redevelopment Area established in June 2000 and on the border of the Downtown District Redevelopment Area established in June 2004 (Figure 4).36

The CRA selected these areas for redevelopment. Its objective was to reduce and eliminate the “continuation and/or spread of blight.”37 The need for

Figure 4
Figure 4

Map depicting the Renaissance Community Center inside the Greater Frenchtown Community Redevelopment Area (established 2000) and on the border of the Downtown District Redevelopment Area (established 2004) (adapted by the authors from the City of Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency).

Citation: Transfers 7, 3; 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070308

securing and sterilizing “blight” was justified in the “Downtown Tallahassee: Reconnaissance and Strategic Assessment” (DTRSA) report, in which the authors wrote, “Research on communities across the United States suggests that a thriving downtown, or urban core, is a critical contributor to a variety of desirable social and economic outcomes for any city.”38 Th eir vision was for an “urban destination for culture, entertainment, history, and attractions.”39

The shelter, the RCC, and the clients, moreover, appeared on the CRA’s redevelopment radar. For example, in the DTRSA’s “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Th reats” analysis, under “Weaknesses,” a bulleted entry read: “Homeless population at shelter hampering development efforts.”40 After noting that the shelter was “slated for relocation to the western part of the City,” the report continued:

The current [shelter] building sits at the center of a patchwork of properties, with buildings in various states of disrepair, located prominently on Tennessee Street at the corner of Macomb Street. Th ese sites serve as an unfortunate welcome to the many students and visitors who frequent the City of Tallahassee’s offices … An option could be to relocate or rebuild [surrounding] businesses as part of a redevelopment effort because their parcels collectively represent a larger development opportunity that, if appropriately conceived and designed, could help create a stronger connection north across Tennessee Street and catalyze future positive redevelopment activity in the Frenchtown neighborhood.41

The RCC being represented as “an unfortunate welcome” to students and consumers makes clear whose movements were valued and whose were disposable. A year later, the CRA purchased the RCC/shelter property and buildings as part of the city’s long-term redevelopment plan.42

According to the report, improvements such as closing buildings and enclosing/relocating services would improve “downtown connectivity,” and the “anticipated relocation of the Shelter” was identified as an important step to reorienting “the urban environment towards human-scale planning and design, and improving transportation options within and around Downtown.”43 As shown by the emphasis on “stronger connections,” “downtown connectivity,” “transportation,” and “human-scale planning,” homelessness in Tallahassee was constituted as an impediment for types of mobility favored for event- and service-based consumption and production. Consequently, not only the urban body but also its capacity for, and conflicting patterns of, movement were problematized by urban elites.

It is worth reflecting on how mobility systems were constructed in these reports. First, the diverse people connecting at the RCC were represented singularly as a “homeless population” and, moreover, as an “unfortunate welcome” that “hampers” redevelopment. Th ese real, human geographies were obscured in favor of statements about the built environment. Consequently, this mobility system was conflated with the “continuation and/or spread of blight” and was therefore constituted as a threat to the envisioned “urban destination for culture, entertainment, history, and attractions.” Second, in contrast to the mobile RCC user, who was conspicuously absent, the mobile consumer was visible and repeatedly referenced as the rationale for development. The consumer’s movements, as a tourist, a transportation system user, and connector, were seen as critical to successful development and being, if not directly threatened by “homelessness,” at least enhanced by its removal.

The obvious contradiction here is that, as we have shown, mobility systems already existed and people already subscribed to the network capital located at the RCC. The CRA’s claim that relocation would enhance “downtown connectivity” is a statement about another mobility system—one organized around spaces of consumption, tourism, revitalization, and creativity.

The new Kearny Center was built on city-owned land three miles west of the original downtown location, well outside the downtown redevelopment areas (Figure 5). The new center neighbors the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the Leon County Health Department, the Leon County Probation Office, the Leon County Jail, Tallahassee Community College, the James Messer Sports Complex, and the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. As well as serving redevelopment goals, the Kearny Center was also an improved facility. The Kearny Center

Figure 5
Figure 5

Map depicting the original location of the Renaissance Community Center (1) and the new location of the Kearney Center (2) (Tallahassee, Florida (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).

Citation: Transfers 7, 3; 10.3167/TRANS.2017.070308

houses the same daytime services as those previously offered separately by the RCC (laundry, showers, access to telephones and computers, and access to case management and partnering agency representatives) but is larger and consolidates the overnight services that were operated by the shelter. The Kearny Center has greater bed capacity, which moved some people from cots and mats at the old location to actual beds. It also includes separate wings for men and women, a full-purpose kitchen, rooms for caseworkers, and leisure services such as a half-court basketball court. It has a complete medical suite, isolation rooms for clients with contagious illnesses, and a hot room for eliminating bed bugs (one of the things clients complained about at the old facility). The Kearny Center also serves three meals a day on weekdays and two on weekends.

The County Commission chairwoman described the relocation as “revolutionary,” and Kearny Center managers described it as a “comprehensive paradigm shift”44 and “a major breakthrough in [Tallahassee’s] effective approach to dealing with homelessness.”45 One reason the chairwoman and managers described the relocation as a success was because the new center and the services housed within were objectively better than the downtown location. But the relocation was also accompanied by procedural changes, including an emphasis on case management and progressing people through the center and into stable housing.

In this section, we have described two of the major rationales for relocating the RCC to the Kearny Center location. The service providers at the center and city officials believed the Kearny Center would revolutionize how they served homeless people. The facility would be larger (with better facilities), provide an opportunity to focus on case management, and bring a welcome change in environment, which service providers hoped might encourage clients to progress to stable housing. Drawing on DeVerteuil, service providers thought the relocation would help them care for and sustain people.46 This motivation can be compared with the CRA, which believed relocation would enhance downtown connectivity for students, tourists, and other consumers of a revitalized Tallahassee. Th eir rationale was to move homeless mobility out of the way, what DeVerteuil calls “abeyance.”


We have sought to reconceive resource centers as centrally coordinated densities of network capital. We also argued that these hubs can encourage people to form small regularities and patterns among peoples’ complex day-to-day mobilities, thereby constituting mobility systems. With 448 visits in one week, the RCC enabled possibilities for contact, enhanced social resources, and aggregated network capital.

The concept of mobility hubs provides three main theoretical insights to studying service relocation and provision. First, scholars can consider service centers like the RCC as providers of connections that generate emotional, financial, and practical benefit. Consistent with the existing literature, mobility hubs operate as spaces of care. For example, people in Tallahassee used the RCC to access a range of resources, people, services, and social networks. Critical perspectives on spaces of care also apply to the concept of mobility hubs. For example, we recognized that while “receiving care,” clients were also subjected to paternalistic “medicalizing” and “surveillance” techniques when accessing these networks and sites of provision.

Second, if service centers are mobility hubs, it opens the possibility of evaluating relocation based on the connections that are lost versus the connections that are gained. Relocating the RCC may have resulted in a net gain of connections, either because the Kearny Center had better services or because it was closer to complementary services like the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. Conversely, relocating the center may have resulted in a net loss of connections because it disturbed the already existing mobility systems of the clients. Either way, scholars can use the mobility paradigm to study redevelopment and relocation as issues of building or facilitating network capital for different constituents in the city.

Using the mobility paradigm in this way will help scholars understand the coexistence of punitive and supportive acts of poverty management. As De-Verteuil predicted, the RCC was not simply relocated for punitive reasons.47

The Kearny Center was bigger with better facilities, and service providers believed they could revolutionize how they cared for clients. In this case, managed displacement was caring as well as punitive—ambivalent and simultaneously sanitizing. Moreover, when considered in light of DeVerteuil’s findings that staying put in the face of redevelopment can be disadvantageous for service centers,48 managed displacement might have been the best option for the center and for the clients. By understanding service centers as mobility hubs, it is possible to make care, sustenance, and abeyance commensurable under the title of “network capital.” In this case, city officials were ambivalent to clients’ network capital, and although we were not able to evaluate the outcomes of the relocation on clients’ mobility systems, we recommend future researchers use measures of network capital to critically evaluate relocation and to understand how stakeholders can facilitate mobility even while moving centers outside of resource-rich, downtown locations.

Third, scholars can use mobility hubs to consider how stakeholders seek to manage homeless people by managing their mobility.49 In Tallahassee, important stakeholders were aware of, and sought to govern, homeless mobility systems: the CRA portrayed the RCC and shelter as proliferators of urban blight and thus perceived homeless mobility systems as threats to downtown redevelopment and connectivity. A novel proposition of this study is to consider how homelessness is governed through constructions and problematizations of mobility.


Don Mitchell and Lynn A. Staeheli, “Clean and Safe? Property Redevelopment, Public Space, and Homelessness in Downtown San Diego,” in The Politics of Public Space, ed. Setha Low and Neil Smith (New York: Routledge, 2006), 143–176; Don Mitchell, The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space (New York: Guilford Press, 2003).


Michael L. Silk and David L. Andrews, “Managing Memphis: Governance and Regulation in Sterile Spaces of Play,” Social Identities 14, no. 3 (2008): 295–414.


Andrew Mair, “The Homeless and the Post-Industrial City,” Political Geography Quarterly 5, no. 4 (1986): 351–368; Phillip Kasinitz, “Gentrification and Homelessness: The Single Room Occupant and the Inner City Revival,” Urban Social Review 17, no. 1 (1984): 9–14.


Mitchell and Staeheli, “Clean and Safe?”; Mitchell, The Right to the City.


Mitchell and Staeheli, “Clean and Safe?”; Geoffrey DeVerteuil, “The Local State and Homeless Shelters: Beyond Revanchism?,” Cities 23, no. 2 (2006): 109–120; Geoffrey DeVerteuil, “Does the Punitive Need the Supportive? A Critique of the Current Grammars of Urban Injustice,” Antipode 40, no. 4 (2012): 874–893.


Geoffrey DeVerteuil, Resilience in the Post-Welfare Inner City: Volunteer Sector Geographies in London, Los Angeles and Sydney (Bristol: Polity, 2015); DeVerteuil, “Does the Punitive Need the Supportive?”


Deborah Holt, “Opening Comments at CESG Groundbreaking—February 29, 2014,” speech presented at the Kearney Center, posted on 3 March 2014,


Nicholas K. Blomley, Law, Space, and the Geography of Power (New York: Guilford, 2000); Don Mitchell, “Political Violence, Order, and the Legal Construction of Public Space: Power and the Public Forum Doctrine,” Urban Geography 17, no. 2 (1996): 152–178.


Mitchell and Staeheli, “Clean and Safe?”; Mitchell, The Right to the City.


Tim Cresswell, “Mobilities I: Catching Up,” Progress in Human Geography 35, no. 4 (2010): 550–558, here 551.


Michael J. Dear and Jennifer Wolch, Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987).


Mair, “The Homeless and the Post-Industrial City.”


Susan K. Ruddick, Young and Homeless in Hollywood: Mapping Social Identities (New York: Routledge, 1996), 51–66, here 39; M. E. Hombs and Mitch Snyder, Homelessness in America: A Forced March to Nowhere (Washington, DC: Community for Creative Non-Violence, 1983).


DeVerteuil, “The Local State and Homeless Shelters,” 109–120.


Joshua Evans, “Exploring the (Bio)political Dimensions of Voluntarism and Care in the City: The Case of a ‘Low Barrier” Emergency Shelter,” Health and Place 17, no. 1 (2011): 34–32; Vincent Lyon-Callo, “Medicalizing Homelessness: The Production of Self-Blame and Self-Governing within Homeless Shelters,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14, no. 3 (2000): 328–345.


Brian Hennigan, “House Broken: Homelessness, Housing First, and Neoliberal Poverty Governance,” Urban Geography (8 November 2016): 1–23, doi:10.1080/02723638.2016.1254496; Teresa Gowan, Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).


Tony Sparks, “Governing the Homeless in an Age of Compassion: Homelessness, Citizenship and the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in King County Washington,” Antipode 44, no. 4 (2012): 1510–1531; Tony Sparks, “Broke Not Broken: Rights, Privacy, and Homelessness in Seattle,” Urban Geography 31, no. 6 (2010): 842–862.


Gowan, Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders.


DeVerteuil, “Does the Punitive Need the Supportive?”


20. Ibid., 890.


DeVerteuil, Resilience, 10.


Jonas Larsen, John Urry, and Kay Axhausen, “Coordinating Face-to-Face Meetings in Mobile Network Societies,” Information, Communication and Society 11, no. 5 (2008): 640–658, here 656.


John Urry, “Social Networks, Mobile Lives and Social Inequalities,” Journal of Transport Geography 21 (2012): 24–30.


Noel Cass, Elizabeth Shove, and John Urry, “Social Exclusion, Mobility and Access,” Sociological Review 53, no. 3 (2005): 539–555, here 548.


Jennifer R. Wolch, Afsaneh Rahimian, and Paul Koegel, “Daily and Periodic Mobility Patterns of the Urban Homeless,” Professional Geographer 45, no. 2 (1993): 159–169.


Matthew D. Marr, Geoff DeVerteuil, and David Snow, “Towards a Contextual Approach to the Place-Homeless Survival Nexus: An Exploratory Case Study of Los Angeles County,” Cities 26, no. 6 (2009): 307–317, here 10.


Wolch et al., “Daily Periodic Mobility.”


Alison Hope Alkon, Daniel Block, Kelly Moore, Catherine Gillis, Nicole DiNuccio, and Noel Chavez, “Foodways of the Urban Poor,” Geoforum 48 (2013): 126–135; Sarah Johnsen, Paul Cloke, and Jon May, “Transitory Spaces of Care: Serving Homeless People on the Street,” Health and Place 11, no. 4 (2005): 323–336; Ruddick, Young and Homeless.


April R. Veness, “Home and Homelessness in the United States: Changing Ideas and Realities,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10, no. 4 (1992): 445–468; April R. Veness, “Neither Homed nor Homeless: Contested Definitions and the Personal Worlds of the Poor,” Political Geography 12, no. 4 (1993): 319–340.


See also Mol’s work on attractors: Arthur P. J. Mol, “Sustainability as Global Attractor: The Greening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” Global Networks 10, no. 4 (2010): 510–528.


R. Joshua Scannell made a similar argument about how surveillance algorithms make new data objects for governance in “Both a Cyborg and a Goddess: Deep Managerial Time and Informatic Governance,” in Object-Oriented Feminism, ed. Katerine Behar (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 247–274.


Mitchell and Staeheli, “Clean and Safe?”


Renaissance Community Center Facebook page, (accessed 10 January 2016).


Marr et al., “Place-Homeless Survival Nexus,” 2–3. Th ey based the typology off David A. Snow and Michael Mulcahy, “Space, Politics, and the Survival Strategies of the Homeless,” American Behavioral Scientist 45, no. 1 (2001): 149–169.


“Community Redevelopment Agency,” City of Tallahassee website, (accessed 10 August 2017).


Scott Maddox, Greater Frenchtown/Southside Community Area and Downtown District Community Redevelopment Plan (Tallahassee, FL: Community Redevelopment Agency, 2000),; RMPK Group, City of Tallahassee Downtown Community Redevelopment Plan (Tallahassee, FL: Community Redevelopment Agency, 2004),


“Community Redevelopment Agency,” City of Tallahassee website.


Live Work Learn Play (LWLP), Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority, and City of Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency, Downtown Tallahassee: Reconnaissance and Strategic Assessment (Montreal: LWLP, 2013),"> (hereinafter DTRASA).


Ibid., 33.


Ibid., 27.


Ibid., 121.


Andy Alcock, “CRA Approves $350K to Buy Shelter,” WCTV, 23 January 2014,


DTRSA, 59.


TeMaryn Waters, “A New Day for the Homeless: The Kearney Center,” Tallahassee Democrat, 3 April 2015,


C. White, J. Reiter, and S. Purcaiu, “Shelter-Renaissance Center New Facility,” The Shelter, 2013, retrieved from (link no longer active).


DeVerteuil, “Does the Punitive Need the Supportive?”




Disadvantages include losing feasible alternatives, facing gentrification-enhanced NIMBYism, and the displacement of clientele away from the center. See Geoffery DeVerteuil, “Resisting Gentrification-Induced Displacement: Advantages and Disadvantages to ‘Staying Put’ among Non-profit Social Services in London and Los Angeles,” Area 44, no. 2 (2012): 208–216.


Jørgen O. Bærenholt, “Governmobility: The Powers of Mobility,” Mobilities 8, no. 1 (2013): 20–34.

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Contributor Notes

Christopher M. McLeod is Assistant Professor of sport management at Texas Tech University. E-mail:

Matthew I. Horner is Deputy Department Head of Physical Education at the United States Air Force Academy. E-mail:

Matthew G. Hawzen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sport Management at Florida State University. E-mail:

Mark DiDonato is Assistant Professor of sport management at McKendree University. E-mail:


Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies

  • View in gallery

    Map depicting RCC, shelter, and various resources in the local area (Tallahassee, Florida, 2016) (generated by Christopher McLeod using Google Maps).

  • View in gallery

    Distance traveled by clients to the RCC during one week in spring 2015 (Tallahassee, Florida) (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).

  • View in gallery

    Distance traveled by clients from the RCC to their next location during one week in spring 2015 (Tallahassee, Florida) (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).

  • View in gallery

    Map depicting the Renaissance Community Center inside the Greater Frenchtown Community Redevelopment Area (established 2000) and on the border of the Downtown District Redevelopment Area (established 2004) (adapted by the authors from the City of Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency).

  • View in gallery

    Map depicting the original location of the Renaissance Community Center (1) and the new location of the Kearney Center (2) (Tallahassee, Florida (generated by Yes Segura using ArcGIS Online).