Homelessness – “Everyday” Legal Problems
How many of us have thought of the relatively small yet practical legal issues faced by homeless people. We may know something about the big issues. But there are so many issues I never thought of until I came across The Homeless Law Blog
Every day, throughout the day, the homeless have to worry about the law. Being without a home is not in itself illegal, but the routines and behavior that go with it often are. Sleeping and grooming in public… Rummaging for food might be theft. Just walking into a business might offend or frighten people enough that the police are called to remove a homeless patron. Once arrested, the homeless often do not have proof of identification and cannot afford attorneys.
Even more than the risk of being arrested, the homeless have to concern themselves with when and how the law will protect them…
People with these kinds of vulnerability are clearly in need of information. If they know their rights, they understand what to ask for. If they can describe a problem in the language of legal and societal institutions, they might get better help. If they realize how the law relates to them, they feel justified in their claims and validated as humans.
Unable to pay for lawyers, the homeless often go to the internet for information. That is why this blog is here, to help homeless people figure out how to do legal research that will enable them to figure out answers to their legal questions.
The Homeless Law Blog is intended to be a research guide for people who are homeless and trying to learn about their legal rights and liabilities.
It presents typical legal questions that arise in homeless life and then provides general information by introducing likely areas of law to investigate, showing search terms, and giving leads to primary law sources. The content of this blog is not tailored to anybody’s particular situation and should not be considered legal advice.
Some issues covered…
- If I’m homeless and get a seasonal job what are my rights about pay and hours?
- What if I can’t pay my tickets or fees and fines from criminal court?
- How can I get my mail when I’m always moving around?
- Why do people get in trouble for feeding the homeless?
- Living in Your Car
- Can shelters require you to take a drug test?
- How can homeless advocates get laws to change?
- When is it legal to take stuff from the trash?
- How can a squatter get the actual title to the property?
- Obituary For a Homeless Litigant
- How can a homeless person living in a car or van get auto insurance without having an address?
The administrator of this site is Linda Tashbook, Esq., an attorney licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and professional law librarian. Her private law practice emphasizes legal aid for the homeless.
She is the author of Family Guide to Mental Illness and the Law: A Practical Handbook (Oxford University Press, 2019).
Click on any of the categories to browse through a homeless law subject.
- public services
- shelter & sleeping
She says… “In the comments sections following each question in this blog, please write about your relevant legal experiences with homeless life and please add links to resources that would be helpful to other readers who are interested in homeless people’s legal issues.”