Decriminalize Poverty and Homelessness
Petition Posted at 17 Nov, 2016 12:00 AM by Community
Homeless people experience stress and insecurity regarding their belongings and personal safety. They vulnerable to criminals, yet the very condition of being without a home is criminalized by many communities.
The number of laws across the country that criminalize homelessness are far too numerous to list. They often take the form of anti-camping laws that forbid sleeping in public, having camping gear or packages on public sidewalks, or living in vehicles on city streets. Some laws even prevent children from sleeping in their own back yard, two hot summer nights in a row. Such laws justify themselves as "protection of the community" and by doing so make it absolutely clear to homeless people that they are not part of the community, that they are Pariah. Despite the often-repeated myth, most people are not homeless by choice. Criminalizing homelessness is a "Not In My Back Yard response to a pressing social issue. By failing to address the needs of those who are homeless, these laws are designed to push indigent citizens into other communities, out of sight and out of mind. If shelters had beds and services for every homeless person, rather than ticketing people for being caught outdoors, vulnerable to criminals and the elements, community officers would instead be handing out referrals to a safe and clean places to rest. "