On August 6th, 2015 the DOJ released a statement of interest expressing opposition to the criminalization of homelessness in a Boise, ID anti-camping case. More recently, HUD released its guidelines for “Continuum of Care” consortiums vying for a share of the $1.9 billion in homelessness assistance funding. They will now require applicants explain how their communities are combatting the criminalization of homelessness and giving preference to applicants who provide evidence of their policies. The actions of these two federal agencies are especially welcome at a time when more and more laws criminalizing homeless people’s right to exist in public spaces are being passed every day throughout the country.
“What an honor it was to accompany J. Fernandez to the United Nations and listen to him read his poem on a really big screen, and to see in front of the General Assembly the pictures of St. Mary’s Center and all of you. It was really inspiring and tear-provoking,” Carol Johnson said.
Rhode Island has become the first state in the country to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. The law passed with the overwhelming support of both houses of the Rhode Island state legislature. It may offer new hope to homeless people who suffer unequal treatment from police and government officials.
We have gone from the days when people could be told “you can’t sit at this lunch counter” to “you can’t sit on this sidewalk.” We’ve gone from from “you’re on the wrong side of the tracks” to “it is illegal to hang out” on this street or corner.