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.
In the News
Analyzes the confluence between policing of transgender women’s identities and survival strategies in public space and in agencies meant to serve poor people (including shelters, drug treatment facilities and transitional living programs).
Trans people experience rates of unemployment and homelessness that are disproportionately high compared with those of cisgender people. Mentions that when trans people seek support services, they often encounter the same dynamics of exclusion that contributed to job loss or housing deprivation in the first place.
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.
Puts forth recommendations for ethical, policy-relevant research with groups of people who experience routine, normalized violence, and who are frequently silenced and misrepresented by academics and policy makers.
Investigates the consequences of anti-homeless laws and enforcement. Examines how anti-homeless laws produce various forms of police interactions that fall short of arrest, yet have wide-ranging impacts on the urban poor. Constant policing creates and deepens poverty, and compounds inequality along the lines of race, gender and disability.
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.
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.
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.