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39 UCLA L. Rev. 295 (1991-1992)
Homelessness and the Issue of Freedom

handle is hein.journals/uclalr39 and id is 309 raw text is: ESSAYS
HOMELESSNESS AND THE ISSUE
OF FREEDOM
Jeremy Waldron*
INTRODUCTION
There are many facets to the nightmare of homelessness. In
this essay, I want to explore just one of them: the relation between
homelessness, the rules of public and private property, and the un-
derlying freedom of those who are condemned by poverty to walk
the streets and sleep in the open. Unlike some recent discussions,
my concern is not with the constitutionality of various restrictions
on the homeless (though that, of course, is important).' I want to
address a prior question-a more fundamental question-of legal
and moral philosophy: how should we think about homelessness,
how should we conceive of it, in relation to a value like freedom?
The discussion that follows is, in some ways, an abstract one.
This is intentional. The aim is to refute the view that, on abstract
liberal principles, there is no reason to be troubled by the plight of
the homeless, and that one has to come down to the more concrete
* Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, School of Law
(Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley. B.A. 1974, LL.B. 1978, University of
Otago, New Zealand; D. Phil. 1986, Oxford University. An earlier version of this essay
was presented at faculty workshops at Cornell University and at Boalt Hall. I am grate-
ful to all who participated in those discussions, but particularly to Gary Gleb, Carol
Sanger, and Henry Shue for the very detailed suggestions they have offered.
1. See, e.g., Siebert, Homeless People: Establishing Rights to Shelter, 4 LAW &
INEQUALITY 393 (1986) (no constitutional guarantee of adequate housing); Comment,
The Unconstitutionality of Antihomeless Laws: Ordinances Prohibiting Sleeping in
Outdoor Public Areas as a Violation of the Right to Travel, 77 CALIF. L. REV. 595
(1989) (authored by Ades) (arguing that laws that proscribe sleeping in outdoor public
areas violate the right to travel).

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