A Dream Denied:
The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities
Advocates, service providers, and/or people experiencing homelessness were surveyed in each of the cities and asked the following questions:
(1) How has your city’s treatment of homeless people changed over the past year?
(2) How are anti-homeless ordinances, laws that prohibit acts that homeless people have to do in public because they live outdoors (e.g. camping, sleeping, panhandling) or any laws that are aimed at clearing the streets of homeless people, being enforced in your city?
(3) Are there any more general laws (e.g. drug-free zones, jaywalking, or sitting on the sidewalk) used or misused to target homeless people? Please cite examples.
(4) Have there been any recent sweeps of homeless people in your city and are they conducted in certain areas? Please cite examples.
- Are local government officials seeking to decrease visibility of homeless people and are there any laws being considered or used that do that?
- If your city has any Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), how are homeless people treated within these districts?
- Are sweeps connected to any major athletic, political events or other special occasions?
(5) How many anti-homeless citations/arrests were issued in your city over the last two years?
(6) Is there anyone in your city bringing litigation challenging anti-homeless laws or policies? If so, do you have any contact information?
(7) Are there any constructive alternatives?
- police sensitivity/awareness trainings? Who provides the trainings?
- successful public education or grassroots organizing campaigns?
Please provide quotes from homeless people, advocates and/or service providers that describe civil rights abuses in your city.
HOME | FULL REPORT (pdf) | Acknowledgements | Executive Summary | I. Trends in the Criminalization of Homelessness | II. Criminalization Measures Violate Constitutional Rights | III. Criminalization Measures Violate Human Rights Norms | IV. Constructive Alternatives to Criminalization | V. T op 20 Meanest Cities | VI. Meanest Cities’ Narratives | VII. Other Cities’ Narratives | VIII. CASES: Challenges to Restrictions on Sleeping, Camping, Sitting or Storing Property in Public Place [FEDERAL] [STATE] | Challenges to Anti-Begging, Anti-Soliciting and Anti-Peddling Laws | Challenges to Vagrancy, Loitering and Curfew Laws | Challenges to Restrictions on Feedings | Miscellaneous | IX. Prohibited Conduct Chart | X. APPENDIX:Survey Questions | Sample Know Your Rights Card | Sources for City Narratives |