More cities across the country are criminalizing basic acts necessary for survival for people experiencing homelessness, according to a study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP).
The study, "Criminalizing Crisis" surveyed 234 cities across the country and found that 40% prohibited sleeping in public places, 33% prohibited sitting or lying in public places, 56% prohibit loitering in public places, and 53% prohibit begging in public places. In addition, the study found an upward trend in cities’ criminalization of homelessness, including a 7% increase in prohibitions on begging and panhandling, a 7% increase in prohibitions on sleeping, and a 10% increase in prohibitions on loitering.
The study also notes that supportive housing and shelter are much more cost-effective than the criminal justice system to homelessness, and that such application actually in some cases applies barriers to people who are experiencing homelessness from finding housing. The study notes that in Utah, providing a homeless person supportive housing costs $6,100 annually, compared to $35,000 to jail them in a state prison.
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Read the study