Date of Award

5-1-2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Bailey

Abstract

This study examines the attitudes of local elected officials regarding quality of life ordinances that impact the street homeless in Atlanta, Georgia, and San Francisco, California. The case study approach was employed. A closed and opened-ended questionnaire was employed to obtain data. Content and aggregate data analysis was also performed. Although the data indicates that there is political representation for the homeless in Atlanta and San Francisco, it is not substantive. That is, even though local government in Atlanta and San Francisco acknowledges the need and its willingness to build additional affordable housing, more energy, time, and resources must be utilized for the creation of affordable housing if governmental figures realistically expect to assist the homeless in securing permanent affordable housing. The data shows, however, that in addition to creating affordable housing, local government in Atlanta and San Francisco has devoted a significant amount of energy, time, and resources to control the behavior of the street homeless. The data analysis also shows that it is the residential and business communities leading the charge for enactment and strong enforcement of quality of life ordinances in both cities. This finding is consistent with Robert DeLeon’s study of local governance in San Francisco. DeLeon argues that San Francisco politics is best understood within the context of pluralism. My study basically shows that pluralism is at work regarding quality of life ordinances in San Francisco. On the other hand, this finding comes in opposition to what Clarence Stone found in his study of Atlanta: Stone concluded that Atlanta governance is best understood within a regime. Even though my study does not confirm that regime theory is inadequate in explaining governance in Atlanta, it does highlight that the residential and rank and file have a strong and significant voice in ensuring the creation and enforcement of quality of life ordinances in Atlanta. The data analysis also suggests that a relationship exists among council members who believe that the primary cause of homelessness in Atlanta and San Francisco, respectively, stems from personal defects and those who support quality of life ordinances. This finding is consistent when analyzing the attitudes of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown regarding quality of life ordinances. Of respondents supporting quality of life ordinances, all indicated that the primary cause of homelessness in their respective cities falls within the personal perspective. At the other end of the spectrum, respondents who stated that the primary cause of homelessness is structural indicated opposition to quality of life ordinances.

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