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Laura Kettel


Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin


October 2019 -

PhD Candidate
Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany



Master’s in North American Studies

Thesis: No Place to Be: The criminalization of homelessness in U.S. cities and     municipal variation in punitive policymaking
John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany



Direct Exchange Stipend
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada



Bachelor’s in North American Studies
Minor in Political Science

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany



Teaching Assignment MA North American Studies

Seminar title: Social Policy and Poverty in the United States



Teaching Assistant, Understanding North America
Department of Economics
John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Municipal Responses to Homelessness under Policy Convergence (Dissertationsprojekt)

Dissertation in Politik

Mentoring Team:
First supervisor: Prof. Christian Lammert
Second supervisor: N/A
Third supervisor: N/A

This doctoral dissertation investigates the development of homelessness policies at the municipal level, and, more specifically, the local management of homelessness in U.S. cities as it has developed over the last twenty years. Homelessness has re-entered public and academic discourse in the context of rising levels of homelessness starting in the 1980s, increased efforts by advocates to bring attention to the hardships facing individuals experiencing homelessness, and increased media attention in the context of rising income inequality and the affordable housing crisis in many major U.S. cities. What is largely missing from the current academic discourse on homelessness is a focus on municipal-level policymaking and an investigation into what explains the patterns in homelessness policies across cities, and the role played by processes of convergence and divergence in multi-level system policymaking. Across U.S. municipalities, which are responsible for the provision and management of homelessness services, I expect to observe the convergence of policy approaches over the past twenty years, which challenges earlier work on what determines municipal responses to homelessness, which has pointed to the role of political coalitions and has established variation in access to governing networks and differences in the relative influence of business interests on policymakers as determinants for variation in policy outcomes. I use a historical process tracing approach to understand how responses to homelessness, and the development and implementation of policies in the individual cities under investigation have developed from 1994 to 2016. I expect to find that policies have become harmonized across municipalities that a) exhibit significant variation in their local power structures, political culture, economic structure, and business-government relations and b) exhibited significant variation in their response to homelessness in the 1980s.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft