The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) [advocacy website] released a report [report, PDF] on Tuesday finding an increased criminalization of homelessness in cities across the US despite a lack of housing options. Such criminalization includes local ordinances that ban sleeping in vehicles, panhandling and camping on the streets. The report specifically targeted four cities—Denver, Honolulu, Dallas, and Puyallup, Washington—with particularly poor laws or practices. The report shows that local governments are conducting sweeps, forcing homeless people to relocate with little to no notice. The NLCHP came to the conclusion that criminalization is an expensive and ineffective public policy and recommended both increased access and availability of affordable housing as well as eliminating unjust evictions to prevent homelessness. The report praised the efforts taken in Chicago, where policy makers gave the homeless a voice and allowed them to be part of the discussion in search of solutions.
Homelessness continues to be an issue that faced by many domestic and international cities. In March a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] was filed against the city of Los Angeles for endangering the homeless [JURIST report]. Also in March the UN reported that homelessness will spread [JURIST report] globally due to general government inaction. In August 2015 the US government challenged [JURIST report] an Idaho ordinance that criminalized sleeping in public. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released a condemnation [press release] of the law, claiming it acted as a criminalization of homeless status in violation of these citizens’ Eighth Amendment rights. JURIST guest columnist Azariah Jelks of Valparaiso University Law argued [JURIST op-ed] in December 2015 that affordable housing must become a reality, due to the mass increase in housing cost, forcing many people out into the street.
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