Multiple US States Furthering Anti-Homeless Policies

    Multiple US States Furthering Anti-Homeless Policies
    Last updated Jan 05, 2023
    Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via The Guardian]


    • As numerous states across the US pass more restrictions on homeless encampments, including fines, imprisonment, and forced hospitalization measures, advocates are raising concerns over the welfare of homeless individuals.[1]
    • A new Missouri state law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Parson in June and took effect on Jan. 1, has made it a crime for anyone to sleep on state property. It also imposes up to a $750 fine or 15 days in prison for multiple offenses of sleeping in public parks or under city highways.[2]
    • After the law took effect authorities also decreased funds for homeless services and changed other funding streams. The law has faced backlash, including from Parson-appointed mental health director Valerie Huhn, who said homeless people will have a harder time finding housing with criminal records.[3]
    • In NYC under Mayor Eric Adams, city officials have outlawed homeless people from sleeping on the subway or riding the trains all night. While cutting homeless services by $400M, the city also arrested 400 people last year for "being outstretched."[2]
    • As New York City attempts to combat its crisis of between 60K and 80K people living on the city's streets, Adams in November also announced plans to allow first responders to forcefully hospitalize the mentally ill who "cannot support their basic human needs to an extent that causes them harm."[4]
    • In Los Angeles, the city council voted to ban homelessness encampments within 500 feet (152 meters) of schools. And in Chicago, protests emerged over the city's plan to remove donated winterized tents for homeless people to make room for street cleaning.[1]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The issue of homelessness is not a left or right issue, but rather a health crisis affecting both homeless and non-homeless city residents. This is why some of the most liberal cities — like Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and Washington, DC — have begun to outlaw such dangerous encampments. Leaving mentally ill or drug-addicted people vulnerable to busy streets and violent crime is not compassion, it's reckless.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    With nowhere else to go, homeless people only endure further hardship and trauma when their encampments are bulldozed away. These laws don't just remove inconvenient tents, but also the food, clothing, and other goods these people require to stay alive. Cities are deciding to scrap vital programs without providing viable alternatives. With political and economic life embracing austerity, these policies are inhumane and cruel.

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