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Criminalizing People Who Have Nowhere to Lie Down and Rest – People Living in Public Places

December 16, 2015

Criminalizing People Who Have Nowhere to Lie Down and Rest  –  People Living in Public Places


People’s Advocacy Council

Without  treating the underlying issues of trauma we cannot hope to change the circumstances and without directly diminishing poverty we cannot hope to change the circumstances of people who live marginally in the Western Hemisphere and throughout the world.  Poverty is hand maiden to trauma.  It is the number one epidemic  that has spread to engulf over 1 million children under 18 years of age in the U.S.  Poverty can be reduced simply by offering opportunity and making it possible for people of all ages to be safe and sound.   “No child in an unsafe place ever again,”  should be our rallying cry.  


Distinctly treating poverty and trauma with laws against people who are vulnerable does nothing but exacerbate the underlying issues.  It SEEMS to be good for public policy makers and bureaucrats to corner people who live on the edge but in the long run the treatment of people who are vulnerable costs the governments many times more to do nothing about trauma.  Time and time again it has been demonstrated that trauma robs people of their ability to function as they age, and simply there is something that can be done to end this national epidemic. Listen to TedMed by Dr. Nadine Jacqueline Burke Harris, and you will discover that what we can do can forever end people being in the cross hairs of local government.


editorial Comment

Across the country, advocates say a growing number of cities have been criminalizing homelessness. Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 3.57.38 PM-1

According to a 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the number of cities with municipal bans on camping or sleeping outside has increased 50 percent since 2011.

The bans included various activities from camping and sitting in particular outdoor places to loitering and begging in public to sleeping in vehicles. (The bar chart to the right shows the proliferation of ordinances banning these activities.)

Nearly a third of homeless individuals were considered “unsheltered,” or living on the street, parks or in vehicles, in 2015. While that figure has been on the decline since 2007, it still remains stubbornly high in major cities.

Last year, the nation’s 50 largest cities saw an overall 11 percent increase in ‘unsheltered’ homeless individuals, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Using data from the 2014 report “No Safe Place” by National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the interactive map below shows the cities across the country that have instituted bans on sleeping outdoors, sitting and loitering in public places and living in vehicles.

Watch the full report from PBS News Hour Weekend on the debate over how to treat the homeless in Sarasota, Florida, as more cities crack down. 

CtD-Logo21Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provid​es a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.




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