Letters from the Law Center

A collection of letters sent or signed onto by the Law Center to support our advocacy and legal work.

Letter to the Mayor and City Council of Austin, TX

This letter from the Law Center urges the City of Austin to continue their course in decriminalizing homelessness, and not to bow to outside pressure to revise their ordinances to add the criminalization of homelessness into the city’s laws. The letter reminds the city of the non-punitive measures available to them, and the other law enforcement tools available to address legitimate public safety and health concerns. Further, it encourages the city to pursue the constructive alternative of the Homelessness Action Plan already being developed locally as of the time of the letter’s writing.

Public Comment to HUD, re: Mixed Status Rulemaking (2019)

This comment voices our strong opposition to changes regarding the eligibility of families for financial assistance. This comment raises concerns not addressed by HUD that the proposed rule will increase homelessness and inflict the costs of housing instability on eligible families and on society as a whole.  The proposed rule would result in many eligible individuals losing their housing and being exposed to housing instability and potential homeless. The rule will also exacerbate the existing crisis of a lack of affordable housing and result in fewer families being able to receive assistance, and would reduce the quantity and quality of assistance available for others. The effects would stretch beyond just immigrant families, as the resulting increase in housing instability and homelessness will result in greater costs to U.S. citizen families and their communities than it currently costs HUD to keep families stably housed and work toward self-sufficiency through these programs.

Letter to Montgomery, AL Mayor re: Panhandling Ordinance (2019)

The Law Center wrote this letter to urge the Mayor of Montgomery, AL to not sign an ordinance which prohibits panhandling in the City of Montgomery.  Since the landmark Reed v. Gilbert case in 2015, every panhandling ordinance challenged in federal court—at 25 of 25 to date—including many with features similar to the ones in Montgomery, has been found constitutionally deficient.  At least 31 additional cities have repealed their panhandling ordinances when informed of the likely infringement on First Amendment rights.  The City’s ordinance not only almost certainly violates the constitutional right to free speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is also bad policy, and numerous examples of better alternatives now exist which the City could draw on. We recommend the mayor and the city council to reconsider the ordinance and instead consider more constructive alternatives or risk potential litigation.

Letter to the Volusia County, FL Council re: First Step Shelter (2017)

This letter to the Volusia County Council opposes the proposal recommended by Dr. Robert Marbut to construct a low-barrier shelter for the purposes of forcing homeless persons to “choose” between a shelter with an outdated approach to homelessness or going to jail. We commend the county on its willingness to commit funds to ending homelessness, but they could be much better expended following federal policy and national best practices which emphasize a Housing First approach in conjunction with not promoting the criminalization of homelessness. Following the letter, the county postponed its vote on the proposal.
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