The Criminalization of Homelessness in America

The Criminalization of Homelessness in America

30th July 2014 // By Tara Watson // In Conversation

Apart from the daily despairs and struggles of living on the streets, it's becoming even harder to be homeless in America. According to a recent study'No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S Cities', laws that criminalize homelessness are being more readily enforced in cities throughout the United States. The study found since 2009 that laws placing restrictions on loitering, begging, sitting and lying down in public have increased nationwide across 187 cities.

The study undertaken by the National Law Centre on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) found that 18 percent of cities now ban sleeping in public and 42 percent of cities ban sleeping in vehicles. While citywide bans on loitering, loafing, and vagrancy have increased by 35 percent and laws against sitting or lying down in particular public places have increased by 43 percent.

 “Instead of wasting limited public resources on strategies that do nothing to address the underlying causes of homelessness, and are often illegal, cities would be much better served by pursuing sensible, cost-effective, and humane constructive alternatives to criminalization,” said Tristia Bauman, Senior Attorney at NLCHP.

There are concerns these bans that target a number of public behaviors will limit the homeless’ population capacity for daily survival. 

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