This report provides a state-by-state review of laws in 13 key issue areas that affect the lives of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Topics include status offenses, emancipation statutes, health care access, consent and confidentiality statutes, and juvenile justice system statutes. It also offers an overview of the range of approaches taken by jurisdictions and the relative prevalence of these approaches and includes detailed indexes where advocates can find the relevant laws in their state or jurisdiction. Importantly, the report also provides recommendations for policy changes in each of the 13 issue areas, with a view towards strengthening the supports available to unaccompanied youth.
Public Charge Comment
The public charge rule proposed by the Trump Administration would be damaging to the fabric of society. Punishing families in need of a home, food, or healthcare is poor policy. The Law Center submitted a comment, which can be read here.
Serving and Protecting? Survey Results on Homeless New Yorkers' Experience With Law Enforcement
This report analyzes data from surveys of people experiencing homelessness in New York City and their interactions with law enforcement. The report includes recommendations for ending the criminalization of homelessness on both the local and national level.
Scoring Points: How Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness Can Increase HUD Funding to Your Community
For the fourth time since 2015, the annual Notice Of Funding Application (NOFA) offers additional points to communities that document the steps they are taking to combat the criminalization of homelessness. Access an excel spreadsheet of the sort-able database referenced in the report here. View it as a pdf here.
State Index on Youth Homelessness
The Law Center and the True Colors Fund released a first-of-its-kind resource that evaluates all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness.
Protect Tenants, Prevent Homelessness
This report details the relationship between renters' rights, evictions, and homelessness and provides recommendations for improving housing security among vulnerable populations.
Tent City USA: The Growth of America's Homeless Encampments and How Communities are Responding
The report reviews the rapid growth of homeless people living in tents across the United States over the past decade, and shares best practices and case studies from communities dealing constructively with them.
Don't Count on It: How the HUD Point-in-Time Count Underestimates the Homelessness Crisis in America
Though HUD reported 554,000 homeless Americans on any given night—itself a number that is unacceptably large—the Law Center’s report suggests this number is actually a significant undercount. The report addresses flaws in HUD’s inconsistent methodology, which particularly misses unsheltered homeless people.
Homeless Education Advocacy Manual: Disaster Edition
Pre-K through 12 students who have been displaced by disaster have the right to attend school under federal law. With pro bono support from Schulte Roth & Zabel LLC, the Law Center has released a new report to provide guidance to students and families navigating the school system after being displaced by disaster.
Housing Not Handcuffs
Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities
Homelessness remains a national crisis, as stagnated wages, rising rents, and a grossly insufficient social safety net have left millions of people homeless or at-risk. Although many people experiencing homelessness have literally no choice but to live outside and in public places, laws and enforcement practices punishing the presence of visibly homeless people in public space continue to grow. Homeless people, like all people, must engage in activities such as sleeping or sitting down to survive. Yet, in communities across the nation, these harmless, unavoidable behaviors are punished as crimes or civil infractions. This report – the only national report of its kind - provides an overview of criminalization measures in effect across the country and looks at trends in the criminalization of homelessness, based on an analysis of the laws in 187 cities that the Law Center has tracked since 2006. We also analyze trends in local enforcement, describe federal opposition to criminalization, and offer constructive alternative policies to criminalization laws and practices, making recommendations to federal, state, and local governments on how to best address the problem of visible homelessness in a sensible, humane, and legal way.
Housing Not Handcuffs: A Litigation Manual
This litigation manual provides an overview of legal theories that have been used successfully to challenge criminalization policies and practices, and it also sets forth several important considerations for bringing litigation on behalf of homeless people. In addition, it includes numerous summaries of cases that have been brought over the years to protect the civil and human rights of homeless people.
Homelessness In America: Overview of Data and Causes
This fact sheet provides statistics and information related to the demographics of people experiencing homelessness, as well as the causes of homelessness.
Public Property / Public Need
A Toolkit for Using Vacant Federal Property to End Homelessness
This toolkit by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty will help public and private non-profit service providers obtain unused federal land and real property to serve and house homeless people. Under Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Title V), local governments, state agencies, and non-profit groups that serve homeless people have a right of first refusal to certain property that is no longer needed by the federal government. The federal government will convey these properties by deed or lease to successful applicants for free. This toolkit provides an overview of the Title V program, and answers many commonly asked questions about how to identify and successfully apply for available properties.
Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Report 2017
Violations of the Human Rights of Persons Experiencing Homelessness in the United States
A Report to the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights
This report, submitted to the U.N. Special Rapporteur in advance of his planned December 2017 visit to the U.S., outlines violations of the human rights of persons experiencing homelessness -- essentially the most extreme form of poverty -- in the United States of America.
Violations of the Right to Privacy for Persons Experiencing Homelessness in the United States
A Report to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy
What little privacy a homeless person enjoys rests on their personal belongings and makeshift dwellings, but “sweeps” of homeless encampments frequently result in the seizure and destruction of homeless persons’ property. People experiencing homelessness can also face criminal charges if police disregard the walls of their tents or tarps and uncover evidence of crimes (such as possession of drugs) in searches that would be impermissible in someone’s house. Because homelessness falls disproportionately on communities of color, LGBTQ individuals (particularly youth), persons with disabilities, and women and families fleeing domestic violence, these violations frequently intersect with other forms of discrimination, and result in further marginalization of these homeless individuals.
Human Right to Housing Report Card, 2016
This report card assesses the current level of US compliance with the human right to housing in the context of American homelessness. In doing so, we consider the country as a whole, and policy at all levels of government, as it relates to homelessness, including its prevention.
A Legal Advocate's Guide to Ensuring Compliance with the Education Program of the McKinney-Vento Act
This manual is designed to provide legal advocates with an understanding of the relevant provisions of McKinney-Vento, and the legal tools needed to effectively assist homeless children and youth in accessing school, including challenges ahead, compliance resources, and lessons learned from litigation. Furthermore, the manual identifies other federal laws and state laws that offer legal protections to homeless children and youth.
Homeless Students Count
How States and School Districts Can Comply with the New McKinney-Vento Education Law Post-ESSA
Too many states were struggling to make schools accessible to students experiencing homelessness, even before heightened legal requirements went into effect this fall. This report, based on a national survey of current state laws, flags common areas where states need to take aggressive action to come into full compliance with federal law, including the amendments to the federal McKinneyVento Homeless Assistance Act that went into effect on October 1, 2016.
Human Rights to Human Reality
A 10 Step Guide to Strategic Human Rights Advocacy
Working consistently for the past two decades, the Law Center is achieving unprecedented success in getting federal agencies to address the criminalization of homelessness as a human rights violation. This guide presents ten steps as a case study of our experiences that we believe can help others achieve broader respect for, and implementation of, human rights.
CAT Criminalization Shadow Report 2014
Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States of America
Submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture for its 2014 Review of the United States of America
September 15, 2014
This report was submitted by the Law Center as the chair of the US Human Rights Network's CAT Homelessness Working Group discussing the criminalization of homelessness in the United States as part of the U.S.'s review by the U.N. Committee Against Torture. The Working Group included the National Coalition for the Homeless and Southern Legal Counsel, and the report was endorsed by an additional thirty-seven organizations and seven individuals.
UPR Housing Report 2014
Housing and Homelessness in the United States of America
Submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of United States of America
September 15, 2014
This report, submitted by the Law Center and the US Human Rights Network UPR Housing Working Group, and endorsed by an additional forty-six organizations and individuals, discusses the housing and homelessness in the United States in relation to the US' human rights obligations.
CERD Housing Report 2014
A Report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
on Racial Discrimination in Housing and Homelessness in the United States
July 3, 2014
This report, submitted by the Law Center and LACAN, and endorsed by an additional thirty-nine organizations and individuals, discusses the violations of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the areas of housing and homelessness in the United States.
From Wrongs to Rights
The Case for Homeless Bill of Rights Legislation
There is a new legislative tool gaining momentum across the country: homeless bills of rights. This report surveys the common rights violations experienced by homeless Americans, describes homeless bills of rights enacted and proposed in several states, and provides advocates with guidance for pursuing similar legislation in their states.
The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States
This report documents the rise of homeless encampments and "tent cities" across the United States, and the legal and policy responses to that growth.
A Place at the Table
Prohibitions on Sharing Food with People Experiencing Homelessness
Uncomfortable with visible homelessness in their communities and influenced by myths about homeless people’s food access, cities use food sharing restrictions to move homeless people out of sight, an action that often exacerbates the challenges people experiencing homelessness face each day just to survive. This report focuses on ordinances, policies, and tactics that discourage or prohibit individuals and groups from sharing food with homeless persons. The report also highlights constructive alternatives to food sharing restrictions, in the form of innovative programs that both adults and youth are implementing to share food with people experiencing homelessness in their communities.
A State-by-State Review of Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth
Each year, an estimated 1.6 million children and youth (ages 12-17) experience homelessness without a parent or guardian. unaccompanied homeless youth face numerous legal barriers that often complicate their attempts to meet the basic necessities of life on their own and prevent them from reaching out for assistance to state agencies and service providers that could otherwise help them. This report reviews the state of current law in 12 key issue areas that affect the lives and future prospects of unaccompanied homeless youth in all 50 U.S. states and 6 territories.
Eviction (without) Notice
Renters and the Foreclosure Crisis
Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading
Submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Committee
Prior to the foreclosure crisis and economic recession, homelessness was already a national crisis. Since then, homelessness has increased dramatically. This report assesses the current level of U.S. compliance with the human right to housing in the context of American homelessness. In doing so, we consider the country as a whole, and policy at all levels of government, as it related to homelessness, including its prevention. It is not, and not intended to be, a comprehensive review and assessment of implementation of all aspects of the right.
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