Habitat International Coalition
Global network for the right to habitat and social justice
 
"Illegal to be Homeless: the Criminalization of Homelessness in United the States."
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As homelessness increases, number of laws targeting homeless people rise.

Source: National Homeless

With the highest unemployment rates in almost a decade, more people are becoming homeless, and as the economy continues to tighten, it is causing financial crises for shelters and service-providing agencies. Though nearly all cities still lack sufficient shelter beds and social services, many continue to pass laws prohibiting people experiencing homelessness from sleeping outside. Almost 70% of the cities surveyed in the first report have passed at least one or more new laws specifically targeting homeless people since January 2002, making it increasingly difficult to survive on the streets. Cities are attempting to make it illegal to perform life-sustaining activities in public, while at the same time refusing to allocate sufficient funds to address the causes of homelessness.This 2003 report finds Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta to be the top five "meanest" cities in the United States for poor and homeless people to live in; California is the "meanest" state, followed by Florida as the second "meanest." The National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project (NHCROP) a project of the National Coalition for the Homeless comprised of local advocates in communities across the country has compiled quantitative and qualitative data samplings from 147 communities in 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. These cities represent rural, urban, and suburban areas in all geographic and demographic varieties across the United States.

"Instead of the compassionate responses that communities have used to save lives in the past two decades, the common response to homelessness is to criminalize the victims through laws and ordinances that make illegal life-sustaining activities that people experiencing homelessness are forced to do in public," said Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, who is himself formerly homeless. As it becomes increasingly difficult to afford housing, this country is turning to jails instead of creating affordable housing by enacting the Bringing America Home Act (H.R. 2897108th Congress). These individuals and families are arrested for committing such illegal acts as sitting or standing on sidewalks and napping in parks. Whitehead stated, "At the national level, we see a relationship between municipalities efforts to make homelessness a crime and the increases in hate crimes and violent acts directed at homeless people in those cities." National Homeless presents the 2003 report.

This 2003 report finds Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta to be the top five "meanest" cities in the United States for poor and homeless people to live in; California is the "meanest" state, followed by Florida as the second "meanest."

The National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project (NHCROP) a project of the National Coalition for the Homeless comprised of local advocates in communities across the country has compiled quantitative and qualitative data samplings from 147 communities in 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. These cities represent rural, urban, and suburban areas in all geographic and demographic varieties across the United States.

"Instead of the compassionate responses that communities have used to save lives in the past two decades, the common response to homelessness is to criminalize the victims through laws and ordinances that make illegal life-sustaining activities that people experiencing homelessness are forced to do in public," said Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, who is himself formerly homeless.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to afford housing, this country is turning to jails instead of creating affordable housing by enacting the Bringing America Home Act (H.R. 2897108th Congress). These individuals and families are arrested for committing such illegal acts as sitting or standing on sidewalks and napping in parks. Whitehead stated, "At the national level, we see a relationship between municipalities efforts to make homelessness a crime and the increases in hate crimes and violent acts directed at homeless people in those cities."

 

 



 
Tags
• Homeless    • Housing and Land Rights / Right to Adequate Housing   • Housing and Target People   • Planning   • Technical Areas of Housing   
   
 


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