Housing is a human right. While three-quarters of Americans agree that housing is a human right, and an increasing number of elected officials are addressing it as such, our country has not put in place the policies to ensure that right, and as a consequence, millions of Americans experience homelessness in a national crisis that gets worse each year. Many people experiencing homelessness have no choice but to live outside, yet cities routinely punish or harass unhoused people for their presence in public places. Nationwide, people without housing are ticketed, arrested, and jailed under laws that treat their life-sustaining conduct—such as sleeping or sitting down—as civil or criminal offenses.
We refer to these policies—laws that restrict or prohibit different categories of conduct performed by homeless people—and their enforcement collectively as the “criminalization of homelessness.” This report—the only national report of its kind—provides an overview of laws in effect across the country that punish homelessness.
View the full report here.