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Homelessness and the Mobile Shelter System: Public Transportation as Shelter



Those without housing often use public space differently than those who are housed. This can cause dilemmas for and conflicts among public officials as guardians of public space and goods. In this paper, we look at one such utilisation of space from the perspective of those who board 24-hour public transportation routes and ride the bus all night for shelter. We describe the results of a preliminary survey, observations and informal conversations with unhoused riders on the bus over three nights in one county in the United States. We found that a substantial number of the unhoused riders we surveyed used the bus as their main form of night-time shelter throughout the year, and that some have ridden the bus for shelter for many years. Men were more likely to say that they used the bus to sleep, while women rode the bus for safety. While some unhoused riders also utilised shelters or did not know about other shelter options, many actively choose the bus over emergency shelters. The potential implications of the study for service providers, researchers and policy-makers are addressed.



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Homelessness and the Mobile Shelter System: Public Transportation as Shelter



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