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Dilara Yarbrough

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, San Francisco State University
Chapter Member: Bay Area SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Criminal Justice

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About Dilara

Yarbrough’s research focuses on how different types of governmental responses to poverty perpetuate or interrupt racial, gender and economic inequalities. Her research shows how the criminalization of homelessness, sex work, and drug use deepens poverty, and explores transformative alternatives including harm reduction and grassroots movements. Yarbrough also works to build the expertise and capacity of housing justice organizations to conduct their own research and policy advocacy. In collaboration with unhoused organizers and colleagues, she has presented findings about the criminalization of poverty to policymakers and community organizations.



"Pervasive Penality: How the Criminalization of Homelessness Perpetuates Poverty" (with Chris Herring and Lisa Marie Alatorre). Social Problems (forthcoming).

Investigates the consequences of anti-homeless laws and enforcement. Constant policing creates and deepens poverty, and compounds inequality along the lines of race, gender and disability.

"'You Start With the Youth:" Systemic Critique at a Homeless Service Organization," American Sociological Association, August 1, 2015.

Explores the development of political consciousness among homeless youth at an organization that provides housing and services. Based on interviews and ethnography with 18-24 year-olds in shelters, on the streets and in transitional housing, the study demonstrates how service providers can support social justice advocacy.

"Fighting Anti-Homeless Laws Through Participatory Action Research: Reflections from the San Francisco Coalition on Homlessness’ Criminalization Study" (with Lisa Marie Alatorre, Bilal Ali, Jennifer Friedenbach, Chris Herring, and T.J. Johnston), in Beyond Academia: Collaborative Research and Community Action, edited by S. Greenbaum and P. Zinn (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming).

Describes the process of designing and conducting a Participatory Action Research study with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, and engaging in collaborative policy advocacy for maximum impact.

"'Outlaw Poverty Not Prostitutes”: Sex Workers’ Responses to Poverty Management in San Francisco," University of California, San Diego: Proquest Dissertation Publishing, February 1, 2016.

Traces the lives of sex workers of all genders as they survive housing deprivation, incarceration, and social service programs, and shows how punitive responses create and maintain poverty, and investigates how harm reduction and grassroots movements can transform harmful systems. Refocuses scholarship about sex work on housing and labor market processes, and encourages scholars of homelessness to center race, gender, and sexuality in their analyses of economic inequality.

"Punishing the Poorest: How San Francisco’s Criminalization of Homelessness Perpetuates Poverty," (with Chris Herring and the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness), Social Science Research Network, June 1, 2015.

Details the extent and effects of the criminalization of homelessness in San Francisco. Findings have been reported in media and presented to local organizations and officials, including San Francisco‚ Local Homeless Coordinating Board, District Attorney, and Police Commission, as well as to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.