by Taylor Skillin
Criminalization is the most expensive and least effective way of addressing homelessness. We’re not providing enough public housing while simultaneously making basic acts of survival—sitting, sleeping, asking for food—illegal.
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty’s report on the criminalization of homelessness highlights three studies that show how providing housing, rather than jail time, can save cities money:
-Creative Housing Solutions in Central Florida found that providing chronically homeless people with permanent housing & case managers would save taxpayers $149 million in reduced law enforcement & medical care costs over the next decade.
-The Utah Housing & Community Development Division reports that it costs $11k annually to provide an apartment & social worker vs. $16k for emergency room and hospital stays.
-The University of New Mexico has shown that by providing housing, the city reduced spending on homelessness-related jail costs by 64%.
Criminal convictions–even for minor crimes–can create barriers to obtaining critical public benefits, employment, or housing, thus making homelessness more difficult to escape.
“I’m just simply baffled by the idea that people can be without shelter in a country, then be treated as criminals for being without shelter. The idea of criminalizing people who don’t have shelter is something that I think many of my colleagues might find as difficult as I do to even begin to comprehend.” —Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the U.N. Human Rights Committee
Read the full report here: http://nlchp.org/documents/No_Safe_Place