Notice
Due to the lapse in Congressional Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is closed. This website is supported by a cooperative agreement funded under a prior appropriation. Current functions will remain operational but no new functions will be added during the lapse in appropriations. For more information, see HUD Contingency Plan for Possible Lapse in Appropriations.

Decriminalizing Homelessness

In recent years, the United States has seen the proliferation of local measures to criminalize “acts of living” laws that prohibit sleeping, eating, sitting, or panhandling in public spaces. City, town, and county officials are turning to criminalization measures in an effort to broadcast a zero-tolerance approach to street homelessness and to temporarily reduce the visibility of homelessness in their communities. Although individuals experiencing homelessness should be afforded the same dignity, compassion, and support provided to others, criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties and violate our international human rights obligations. Moreover, there is ample evidence that alternatives to criminalization policies can adequately balance the needs of all parties.