The growing number of homeless people in the U.S. has prompted a suite of responses from local governments attempting to ease the problem of seeing individuals struggling to survive. Often, the “solutions” do not equate to housing and services as much as they make sure homeless people are not seen.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington launched an online resource center for homeless advocates to help push back on three strategies to criminalize homelessness: sweeping encampments, banning camping and prohibiting panhandling.
The page provides talking points, advocacy letter templates, case law references and answers to questions about each of the three topics.
Seattle law prohibits “aggressive panhandling,” a term that legal advocates find problematic because the term remains poorly defined, and the city has publicly grappled with policies around encampments. New rules around encampment sweeps, known as Multi-Departmental Administrative Rules, are still in process. Existing rules, which have been in place since 2008, are currently subject to a legal challenge by Columbia Legal Services and the ACLU.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read our full May 3 issue.