Date of Award

Summer 2021


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in Critical GIS and Public Anthropology


Anthropology and Geography


The objective of this study is to examine business improvement districts (BIDs) as a form of class monopoly rent (CMR) within the broader production and spatial management of the ongoing homeless crisis in Seattle Washington. The city of Seattle Washington is home to a plethora of successful and ever-expanding international corporations. Within and around the city the headquarters of tech giants Microsoft and Amazon can be found. The continued success of these companies has had a dramatic impact on the region, bringing in a multitude of high-wage jobs which in turn has created a volatile, cutthroat real estate market. The city government depends upon this real estate market for tax revenue. As such, it is in their best interest to assist in the increase in property values across the city. Organizations such as BIDs are able to utilize their close ties to local government offices, financial institutions, and cartelistic regimes of developers in order to command complete spatial control over the public sphere in which they exist. This includes excluding those individuals (i.e. the homeless) who may negatively affect their future economic prospects. BIDs use self-imposed taxes and their close ties with city government and financial institutions in order to meet their objective: the realization of CMR. The study reviews the literature on land rent theory, homelessness and BIDs, bringing these bodies of literature into closer dialogue. In the process, BIDs are reconceptualized as the strategic weaponization of CMR in the pursuit of cleansing the public space within their respective territories of any threats to their profit maximizing objectives. Based on evidence from Seattle, WA, the paper deepens our understanding of BIDs by linking this phenomenon to the spatial dynamics of rent within the contemporary neoliberal city and concludes by discussing the implications for what BIDs reveal about class monopoly rent in particular, the kind of class conflict this form of rent configures, and its role within wider processes of neoliberal urbanization.