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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of people across the world, but perhaps none more dramatically than people experiencing homelessness. Drawing on an assortment of documents, including social media posts, podcasts, and government documents, I argue that the pandemic has exacerbated the socio-spatial exclusion of homeless persons in the contemporary American neoliberal city. This exclusionary process pervades all spaces of the city, including subways, charities, and online spaces. This emergent exclusion is experienced by homeless persons as a deleterious rupture in the everyday routine necessary to cope with the traumas of homelessness, leading those most affected to seek a monadic, trance-like state similar to what Charles Peirce labeled firstness. The exclusionary rupture produced by the pandemic has frequently crystallized into permanent constraints, driven now by the perceived need for revitalization in the wake of the pandemic. However, I argue that the pandemic has also led to a dialogic and collective political movement, one in which housed and unhoused communities ally themselves in the fight for housing justice, a marked contrast from the hegemonic revanchist NIMBYism which has become universal since the 1980s.

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