Chris Herring receives Community Partnership Paper Award from the Society of Social Problems for the book chapter “Fighting Anti-Homeless Laws through Participatory Action Research: Reflections from the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness’ Criminalization Study” with Lisa Marie Alatorre, Jennifer Friedenbach, Bilal Ali, TJ Johnston, and Dilara Yarbrough. The chapter is forthcoming in S. Greenbaum and P. Zinn (eds), Collaborating for Change: A Participatory Action Research Casebook. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Abstract: Formed in 1987, the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness has been organizing against the criminalization of poverty for over 20 years. In collaboration with sociologists, we conducted a PAR study about the effects of the criminalization of homelessness in San Francisco. This chapter discusses 1) how our participatory research process enhanced the quality of data and worked as a vehicle for organizing 2) how our project impacted the organization, city, and narrative on the criminalization of homelessness and 3) how we confronted assumptions about expertise as we worked to establish homeless people as leaders and experts in the local policy arena. Our successes, struggles, and process will be useful to other researchers and organizers designing and implementing projects that establish the expertise and leadership of directly affected communities.