The Governance of Poor People’s Possessions

Most of my waking life is spent on law school. The law continues to be used to protect property owners, people with money, and white people. People with disabilities, people who use stigmatized drugs, Indigenous and other racialized communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by enforcement of punitive laws. Seizing and destroying poor people’s belongings is done to ensure that property owners can continue to profit off of land that was stolen from sovereign Indigenous nations. The rule of law is inherently racist.

From the article:

“Whether it is on the streets or in parks, in shelters or couch surfing, in a
rooming house or single-room occupancy, precariously housed people lack
access to safe, adequate, and secure places to keep their personal belongings.
The laws, bylaws, and less-formal rules that govern public and private
spaces, combined with the lack of affordable and adequate housing (as well
as lack of storage facilities), creates the reality where the possessions of
precariously housed people and people who rely on public space are
constantly at risk of theft, seizure, impound, and destruction by
governmental and non-governmental actors alike. The lack of secure
places to keep belongings means that many people are forced to move their
personal property daily to avoid impound or theft.”

Law, Urban Space, and Precarious Property: The Governance of Poor People’s Possessions in Fordham Urban Law Journal

by Nicholas Blomley, Alexandra Flynn, Marie-Ève Sylvestre, Nicholas Olson