This paper reports on discursive justifications of homeless service institutions in the USA, illustrating a conceptualization of service founded on economic logics of industry and the marketplace. Emerging from ethnographic data, we found that homeless service administrators utilized economic logics of justification to legitimize the exclusion of the street homeless by framing delivery within western notions of fair exchange and efficient production. When these logics are used exclusively to frame justifiable criteria for receiving services, certain people are empowered to participate in social welfare institutions, while others are disfranchised. We conclude that addressing gaps in service requires legitimizing varied administrative models, which, although underpinned by different, perhaps even oppositional, justifications, will engender a service sector responsive to the diversity of the homeless population. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.