latest news on COVID-19

Crash Course In Homelessness In 400 Words

by | May 28, 2020 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections | 1 comment

Can you imagine a course in homelessness in 400 words?

Someone recently sent me what amounts to a 400 word “crash course’ In Homelessness. It was found buried in an OpEd in the Miami Herald. It wasn’t labeled as a “Crash Course”. It simply had a link to a December 2019 study put out by The National Poverty Law Center at the University of Miami under the title “Housing not Handcuffs”.

The Table of Contents seemed like a crash course in the issues surrounding homelessness. Take the time to read the next 400 words to gain a broader perspective on the seemingly intractable issue of homelessness. I appreciated the way it broadened my horizons.

Homelessness Crash Course

RISE OF HOMELESSNESS

  • Homelessness is a large and growing crisis
  • The gap between incomes and the cost of housing is a primary cause of homelessness
  • People of color face disproportionate housing cost burdens, eviction, and homelessness
  • People with disabilities are also disproportionately homeless
  • People experiencing homelessness have insufficient options for meeting their basic human needs

GROWTH OF LAWS CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS

  • Camping Bans
  • Evictions of Encampments (“Sweeps”) Sleeping Bans
  • Bans on Sitting and Lying Down Restrictions on Living in Vehicles
  • Begging Bans
  • Bans on Loitering, Loafing, and Vagrancy Restrictions on Food Sharing
  • Other Common Criminalization Laws
  • Storing personal property in public Urination/Defecation Rummaging/Scavenging/Dumpster Diving
  • Laws Criminalizing Homeless Youth Status Offenses
  • Curfew Laws
  • Truancy Laws

ENFORCEMENT OF CRIMINALIZATION POLICIES

  • Arrest and Incarceration
  • Fines, Fees, and Debtors Prison
  • Warrants
  • Orders to “Move Along” from Public Space
  • Privatization of Public Space
  • Hostile Architecture and Landscaping
  • Complaint Oriented Policing

CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS PERPETUATES UNFOUNDED AND HARMFUL STEREOTYPES ABOUT HOMELESS PEOPLE

CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS IS INEFFECTIVE, HARMFUL, AND EXPENSIVE PUBLIC  POLICY

  • Criminalization policies fail to address the causes of homelessness, and instead worsen the problem
  • Criminalization of homelessness harms public safety
  • Criminalization laws harm public health
  • Criminalization increases recidivism
  • Criminalization policies breed distrust between homeless individuals and law enforcement
  • Homeless people live outside because they lack better options
  • Homeless people work, but still cannot afford housing
  • The vast majority of homeless people do not abuse alcohol and/or drugs
  • Criminalization policies increase the risk of violence against homeless people Criminalization is expensive and wasteful of limited public resources
  • The solution is cheaper than the problem
  • Cost savings associated with housing are grossly underestimated
  • Housing saves money by improving physical and mental health Criminalization policies threaten federal funding for homeless services

POLICIES CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS ARE OFTEN ILLEGAL

  • Challenging Camping and Sleeping Bans and Sweeps
  • Right to be Free From Cruel and Unusual Punishment Property Rights and Due Process
  • Right to Free Exercise of Religion
  • Challenging Restrictions on Living in Vehicles
  • Right to Due Process
  • Other Theories to Challenge Vehicle Tows and Impoundment
  • Challenging Loitering, Loafing, and Vagrancy Laws 80 Challenging Begging Bans 80
  • Right to Free Speech
  • Challenging Food Sharing Restrictions
  • Right to Free Religious Exercise
  • Right to Expressive Conduct
  • Challenging the Human Rights Violations of Criminalization

WE SHOULD SOLVE HOMELESSNESS, NOT PUNISH IT

  • Cities should invest in Permanent Housing Solutions using a Housing First model
  • Permanent Supportive Housing
  • Governments should expand access to affordable housing subsidies
  • Governments should dedicate funding streams to housing and services for homeless people.
  • Tax on gross receipts of large companies Sales Tax
  • Social Impact Bonds
  • Solicit Corporate and Private Donations
  • Governments should utilize surplus property to provide housing and services
  • Governments should embrace innovative housing solutions
  • Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Tiny Home Communities Community Land Trusts
  • Vehicle and RV Parking Options

Even if you do not have time to delve more deeply into these issues by visiting the full text of “Housing not Handcuffs.” I hope it will broaden horizons and possibly serve as a resource when thinking of the issues.

1 Comment

  1. Judith Schomisch

    I work with the Homeless and this is a brilliant summary of the situation. They are human beings like you and I and deserve to be treated like you and I!!!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This