With A Series Of Small Bans, Cities Turn Homelessness Into A Crime

Laws that criminalize homelessness are on the rise across the country. And it's only making the problem worse.

News Story (District of Columbia, Maine, NATIONAL)

Pam Fessler
National Public Radio (NPR)
July 16, 2014
Link to story

Tags: Housing: Homelessness

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP)


Last year, though, the city passed a law that banned loitering on median strips. A federal judge has since declared the law unconstitutional, but the city plans to appeal. Council member Ed Suslovic says the goal of the legislation was not to hurt the homeless — just the opposite, in fact.

“This was a public safety threat, mainly to the folks in the median strip, but also to motorists going by as well,” Suslovic says.

To Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, such measures are counterproductive — as well-meaning as they might be. Especially if they subject individuals to jail time or fines they can’t afford to pay.