We released our Housing Not Handcuffs 2019 report on the criminalization of homelessness in America. This report—the only national report of its kind—provides an overview of laws in effect across the country that punish homelessness.
Through online research, we identified laws that restrict or prohibit different categories of conduct performed by people experiencing homelessness, including sleeping, sitting or lying down, and living in vehicles within public space.
Additionally, this report tracks the significant growth of these laws both over the past thirteen years, and since the release of Housing Not Handcuffs, our last report on the criminalization of homelessness in 2016.
Read the full report here: Housing Not Handcuffs 2019 Report
Housing Not Handcuffs was initiated by the National Homelessness Law Center and the National Coalition for the Homeless, and more than 250+ participating organizations, including groups that don’t commonly work together, such as:
-Housing groups pushing for greater access to affordable housing
-Homelessness groups pushing for homeless services and rights
-Civil rights groups
-Criminal and juvenile justice reform groups
-Organizations supporting children and youth
-Smart government groups
The Campaign has now grown to include over 2,000 endorsees, over 800 of which are organizations.
Across the country, cities are criminalizing homelessness, making it illegal for people to sit, sleep, and even eat in public places—despite the absence of housing or even shelter, and other basic resources.
These laws and policies violate constitutional rights, create arrest records and fines & fees that stand in the way of homeless people getting jobs or housing, and don’t work. The evidence is clear that homelessness is reduced in communities that focus on housing, and not those that focus on handcuffs.
Criminalization of homelessness costs more money than simply solving the problem by ensuring access to adequate housing. And there is a growing awareness among the general public that our criminal justice system is not the solution to social problems.
Housing Not Handcuffs is a national campaign to stop the criminalization of homelessness—and to push for effective housing policies that end homelessness.