Supreme Court Decides That Homeless Individuals Can Be Arrested Or Fined For Sleeping In Public Areas

PhotoCredit: Spenser Heaps for Utah News Dispatch

In a ruling on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it is constitutional to apprehend or fine homeless people for using survival materials like blankets or pillows in public areas. This is even if there are no shelters available.

“Arresting or fining people for trying to survive is expensive, counterproductive, and cruel. This inhumane ruling, which contradicts the values of nearly three-quarters of Americans, will make homelessness worse in Grants Pass and nationwide. Cities are now even more empowered to neglect proven housing- based solutions and to arrest or fine those with no choice but to sleep outdoors. While we’re disappointed, we are not surprised that this Supreme Court ruled against the interest of our poorest neighbors,” stated Jesse Rabinowitz, campaign and communications director at the National Homelessness Law Center.

“Penalizing individuals including many with mental health and other disabilities for merely trying to live is not only cruel but also counterproductive. This decision, which stands in stark contrast to the beliefs of the majority of Americans, will exacerbate the homelessness crisis across the country. Cities are now further emboldened to ignore effective housing-based solutions, opting instead to punish those with no alternative but to sleep on the streets. Although disheartened, we are not shocked that this ruling favors punitive measures over compassion and justice for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Marlene Sallo, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).

Since the Supreme Court has made the decision, the NDRN and NHLC have requested that the Biden Administration and Congress invest at least $356 billion in the next year with consistent funding in the future to ensure that everyone has safe, decent housing that they can pay for.

More specifically, they are requesting money for universal rental assistance for lowest-income households, public housing repair and preservation, a national housing trust fund, eviction and homelessness prevention, and voluntary supportive and emergency services.

“Too often a lack of housing in the community leaves people with disabilities stuck in institutions or worse, homeless. Affordable, accessible housing is a critical and necessary component for people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives in the community. The Biden Administration and Congress must invest in affordable and accessible housing to mitigate the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling,” Sallo added.

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