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.
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.