Illegal to be Homeless
The Criminalization of Homelessness in the United States
Individuals experiencing homelessness are often subject to
basic violations of their civil rights because of unconstitutional application
of laws, arbitrary police practices, and discriminatory public regulations.
Regulations that target behaviors associated with being homeless, such as sleeping,
cooking, storing personal belongings in public spaces, etc, are
unconstitutional because they target people based on their housing status, not
for criminal actions.This report documents the pattern and practice of civil
rights violations against homeless people and outlines effective strategies to organize
and litigate for constitutional protections.
The report argues that criminalization is not only a local
issue but also a federal one. The pattern
of unconstitutional behavior in local police departments and other city
agencies has enormous economic and social costs, but does nothing to alleviate
the actual cause of homelessness.