A new report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty shows that since 2001, the United States has lost nearly 13% of its low-income housing. The survey looked at 187 US cities, and found that laws restricting the homeless have increased since 2009.homeless-in-america

The advocacy group’s report found that laws placing restrictions on begging, sitting and lying down in public and loitering have increased over the years. It also found that 18% of cities now ban sleeping in public, and 42% of cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles.

An overwhelming increase in homelessness can be tracked to the recession, and a widespread initiative to update and revitalize downtown areas of major cities has incited a crackdown on the homeless.

Some cities are taking steps to provide resources for the homeless, such as housing and other services, instead of criminalizing them. A city in Miami-Dade County, Florida raised money through a Homeless and Domestic Violence tax. There is also the National Housing Trust, which NLCHP has asked the US government to provide $3.5 million each year to increase affordable housing and prevent people from having to live on the streets.

“The federal government should play a leadership role in combating the criminalization of homelessness by local governments and promote constructive alternatives,” the report said.