International Journal of Drug Policy - 2014

Volume 25 Issue 3 May 2014

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P.J. Davidson, M. Howe / International Journal of Drug Policy 25 (2014) 624–632 631 One of the key findings to emerge from the work described above however is the idea that the social history of a place shapes notions of neighbourhood, and these in turn impact the ways in which the 'social disorder' represented by homeless youth are understood and responded to. The Haight has for nearly half a cen- tury been a place for people to go for a kind of sanctuary, and clearly has many residents who still think of themselves as recipients of, and participants in that legacy. This means that despite skyrock- eting housing prices, and despite the opposition of arriviste home owners with little notion of the ongoing history of their own neigh- bourhood, there is still a sufficient sense that homeless people, and people who use drugs, and the agencies that provide them services, are 'legitimately present' in the neighbourhood, enough so that their presence is defended by both City government and a sizeable portion of the housed community. The response of at least some housed residents was to therefore engage in what we have termed 'defensive place making', rhetori- cally carving themselves out from the larger neighbourhood in an effort to create a new, strongly classified, space where they could ignore pre-existing narratives of inclusion and history and more effectively justify their desire to exclude their fellow citizens. HYA's proposed move threatened to completely erase this effort, by sym- bolically locating an agency directly connected to the history of the broader neighbourhood right in the middle of this new, fragile space. In hindsight, it is unsurprising that even though the housed residents of the area were, by American standards, politically pro- gressive and accepting of the concept of needle exchange and other services for the homeless, they reacted immediately and vocally. We suggest that our experiences have two main implications for those interested in processes of locating controversial services. Firstly, reflecting the prior scholarship of others, our experience suggests that narratives about an area which speak to an inclusion- ary history; which emphasize that otherwise controversial groups or services 'belong' in an area, are a particularly potent tool for responding to attempts to exclude both people and services. Sec- ondly, and perhaps more originally, we found that in a situation where such narratives were effectively deployed, that one possi- ble outcome was for some residents to be left feeling 'under siege' or 'victims' of the situation, and to engage in what we defined as 'defensive place making' in which they attempt to remake the neighbourhood into multiple neighbourhoods. Such 'new neigh- bourhoods' are likely to be particularly virulently 'defended' against perceived encroachment. When engaged in attempting to locate or relocate services in a neighbourhood, our experience suggests that finding out if such 'new neighbourhoods' exist in the minds of one's neighbours or neighbours-to-be, and if so avoiding them where possible, may reduce the level of opposition. Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Rachel Washburn for providing valu- able feedback on drafts of this paper. Dr. Davidson's effort during data collection was funded by the California HIV/AIDS Research Pro- gram, grant # D06-SF-424, and during manuscript production by the U.S. National Institute for Drug Abuse, grant # K01DA032443. Conflict of interest statement This paper describes events relating to the Homeless Youth Alliance (HYA). During the events described, Dr. Davidson was unpaid chair of HYA's community advisory board, and Ms. Howe was the paid executive director of HYA. Other than this association, the authors declare that they have no financial or personal rela- tionship with people or organisations that could inappropriately influence this work. References Beitel, K. E. (2004). Transforming San Francisco: Community, capital, and the local state in the era of globalization, 1956–2001. University of California, Davis. Ph.D. Dissertation. Brechin, G. A. (1999). Imperial San Francisco: Urban power, earthly ruin. Berkeley: University of California Press. Castells, M. (1983). 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