The criminalization of homelessness has been on the rise since early 2009 in a number of cities across the country.
A recent study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty examines the state of citywide bans targeting the homeless population in 187 cities across the country. These bans cover a number of public behaviors limiting the homeless’s capacity for daily survival. Citywide behavioral bans prohibit sleeping in public, begging in public, loitering, sitting or lying down in public spaces, food sharing, and sleeping in vehicles, among other behaviors.
“Many cities have chosen to criminally punish people living on the street for doing what any human being must do to survive,” the report states.
Initially, these bans sought to eradicate homelessness by addressing some of the underlying causes of poverty. However, the NLCHP report cites shortcomings in providing alternatives to the banned behaviors, rendering the criminalization laws ineffective. Additionally, these bans do not only affect the populations in specific areas of the cities; instead, they prohibit banned behaviors in entire communities city-wide, limiting the options for people trying to survive on the street.
The NLCHP study insists on changes to the homelessness support system on all levels of the government as a more effective solution instead of criminalizing the homeless. Perhaps the most significant change that can be made, the report suggests, is widening the scale of affordable housing in order to make necessary resources more accessible to homeless populations in cities across the U.S.
“Despite a lack of any available alternatives, more cities are choosing to turn the necessary conduct of homeless people into criminal activity… Such laws threaten the human and constitutional rights of homeless people, impose unnecessary costs on cities, and do nothing to solve the problems they purport to address.”
Not to mention that being poor and homeless is the fault of a system designed to destroy people and then blame them when they fail. The game is rigged and the poor and homeless will be the first destroyed and disposed of. I don’t think it will be much longer before they decide that the best way to deal with the riff raff will be to use those empty “emergency centers” to give them food and a warm bed. The only problem will be when they want to leave.