New Report: Marina Fisher, Nathaniel Miller, Lindsay Walter &Jeffrey Selbin, California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State (2015). Abstract below:
Vagrancy laws conjure up a distant past when authorities punished people without a home or permanent residence. Whether the objects of pity or scorn, vagrants could be cited or jailed under laws selectively enforced against anyone deemed undesirable. Although such laws have generally been struck down by courts as unconstitutionally vague, today’s “vagrants” are homeless people, who face growing harassment and punishment for their presence in public.
More than one in five homeless people in the country lives in California, and two-thirds are unsheltered. The state legislature has done little to respond to this widespread problem, forcing municipal governments to address homelessness with local laws and resources. Cities have responded by enacting and enforcing new vagrancy laws — a wide range of municipal codes that target or disproportionately impact homeless people.
Through extensive archival research and case studies of several cities, the report presents detailed evidence of the growing enactment and enforcement of municipal anti-homeless laws in recent decades as cities engage in a race to the bottom to push out homeless people. It concludes with a call for a state-level solution to end the expensive and inhumane treatment of some of California’s most vulnerable residents.
News Article: James Surowiecki, Give the Homeless Homes, The New Yorker, Sept. 22, 2014
New Report: National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities (2014).
An extensive article: Justin Jouvenal, Robert Samuels & DeNeen L. Brown, D.C. family homeless shelter beset by dysfunction, decay, Washington Post, July 12, 2014.
And here is a related op-ed from DC’s other paper: Aaron Weiner, D.C. General Is Awful. Closing It Could Be Worse., Washington City Paper, July 14, 2014.
Op-Ed: Linda Tashbook, Living in a Vehicle, Jurist Forum, June 26, 2014. This op-ed focuses on the notable decision in Desertrain, available here.
New Article: Marc L. Roark, Homelessness at the Cathedral, SSRN 2014. Abstract below:
This Article argues that legal restraints against homeless persons are resolved by applying certain nuisance-like approaches. By drawing on nuisance restraints that adopt property-based and social-identity information, courts and decision-makers choose approaches that create conflict between homeless identities and adopted social identities. These approaches tend to relegate the social choice of whether to tolerate homeless persons to one of established social order (property) or broadly conceived notions of liberty (constitutional rights or due process rights). This Article argues for a broader conception of social identity, which may force parties to internalize certain costs of action, tolerate certain uses, or abate the full range of property rights that the law would otherwise allow in different social settings. Considering the question of “undesirable” uses of space — both on private and public land — helps articulate a narrative of property that moves beyond the rhetoric of economics-bound entitlements and affords a broader, more honest characterization. Conceived in this way, property entitlements represent information about how society defines, refines, enforces, and rejects its collective identity through the legal recognition of property entitlements.