Category Archives: Homeless

New Report: Homeless Exclusion Districts: How California Business Improvement Districts Use Policy Advocacy and Policing Practices to Exclude Homeless People from Public Space

New Report: Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic (Jeffrey Selbin, Stephanie Campos-Bui, Joshua Epstein, Laura Lim, Shelby Nacino, Paula Wilhlem & Hannah Stommel), Homeless Exclusion Districts: How California Business Improvement Districts Use Policy Advocacy and Policing Practices to Exclude Homeless People from Public Space (2018). Abstract below:

Business improvement districts (“BIDs”) are private entities funded by local property assessments that play an increasingly large role in managing public space in California cities. First authorized by state law in the 1960s to help revitalize struggling urban areas, BIDs have grown considerably in number and influence, especially since 1994 when the State Legislature reduced public oversight of BIDs and expanded their assessment and spending authority. Today, approximately 200 California BIDs collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in compulsory property assessment revenue, which they spend on a wide range of activities. Researchers and policymakers have paid little attention to the rise of BIDs and their growing influence on municipal and state affairs. BIDs typically are located in downtown areas where businesses are concentrated. These same areas, especially in California, often have a high concentration of homeless people, including many people who are unsheltered. The interests and activities of BIDs and homeless people intersect and conflict in several important ways, including in the areas of public policy, policing practices, and social services. In this report, we share research findings about the relationship between California BIDs and homelessness. We conducted a literature review, studied municipal laws that target or disproportionately impact homeless people, researched the legal framework authorizing BIDs, and surveyed BIDs in California’s 69 largest cities. To help interpret the data from these sources, we conducted in-depth case studies of eleven BIDs in the cities of Berkeley, Chico, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco, including analysis of public records, interviews with BID officials, and surveys and interviews of homeless people. Our key finding is that BIDs exclude homeless people from public spaces in their districts through policy advocacy and policing practices. BID involvement in social services is experienced by homeless people as an additional form of policing, surveillance, and harassment. Our findings raise several legal concerns. When BIDs spend property assessment revenue on local and statewide policy advocacy, they may violate California law. BID spending on policy advocacy with revenue from assessments of publicly owned properties raises special statutory and constitutional concerns. Further, BID policing practices may violate the legal rights of people experiencing homelessness and expose BIDs to criminal liability. The findings and legal concerns inform several key recommendations, spelled out in more detail in the report. First, the State Legislature should amend state laws that grant BIDs broad authority to collect and spend property assessment revenue and to operate largely independent of government oversight. Second, city governments should provide more careful scrutiny and regulation of BID activities within their jurisdictions. Finally, BIDs should assume greater accountability to all district residents and visitors.

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News Coverage: We gave six homeless people cameras and asked them to photograph their lives. Here’s what they showed us.

News Coverage: We gave six homeless people cameras and asked them to photograph their lives. Here’s what they showed us, Salt Lake Tribune, 9/9/2018.

Call for Papers: Sustainability in Affordable Housing, Fair Housing & Community Development

ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law Call for Papers: Sustainability in Affordable Housing, Fair Housing & Community Development. Abstracts due October 15, 2018; Drafts due January 1, 2019

The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law (the Journal) invites articles and essays on the theme of sustainability in affordable housing, fair housing and community development. Contributions could explore sustainability from environmental, economic, social or political perspectives and address topics ranging from green building and disaster preparedness/response to affordable housing preservation to funding for local fair housing organizations. Articles and essays could analyze new issues, tell success stories and draw lessons, or explore problems and propose legal and policy recommendations. The Journal welcomes essays (typically 2,500–6,200 words) or articles (typically 7,000-10,000 words).

In addition, the Journal welcomes articles and essays on any of the Journal’s traditional subjects: affordable housing, fair housing and community/economic development. Topics could include important developments in the field; federal, state, local and/or private funding sources; statutes, policies or regulations; and empirical studies.

The Journal is the nation’s only law journal dedicated to affordable housing and community development law.  The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners.

Interested authors are encouraged to send an abstract describing their proposals to the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Tim Iglesias, at iglesias@usfca.edu by October 15, 2018. Submissions of final articles and essays are due by January 1, 2019. The Journal also accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Please do not hesitate to contact the Editor with any questions.

 

New Article: Homeless, Hungry, and Targeted: A Look at the Validity of Food-Sharing Restrictions in the United States

New Article: Samantha Holloway, Homeless, Hungry, and Targeted: A Look at the Validity of Food-Sharing Restrictions in the United States, Hofstra L. Rev. Vol. 46, 2017.

New Article: Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington

New Article: Sara Rankin, Jocelyn Tillisch, Drew Sena, Justin Olson, Begging for Change: Begging Restrictions Throughout Washington, Seattle University Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, 2018. Abstract below:

The act of panhandling, commonly known as begging, is a form of speech protected by the United States Constitution. But Washington’s cities are increasingly enacting laws that criminalize begging, despite courts finding these laws unconstitutional under both the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause. This brief surveys begging restrictions, assessing their scope and legality. This report offers the first statewide analysis of laws that restrict begging.

Among the brief’s key findings is that the vast majority (86%) of Washington cities criminalize begging; the majority (83%) of these laws result in a criminal charge if violated, leading to serious collateral consequences that impact one’s eligibility for housing and employment. Many of these laws would not survive constitutional scrutiny.

New Op-Ed: In Los Angeles, Where the Rich and the Destitute Cross Paths

New Op-Ed: Tim Arango, In Los Angeles, Where the Rich and the Destitute Cross Paths, NYTimes.com, July 2, 2018.

New Op-Ed: Bussed Out: How America moves its homeless

New Op-Ed: Outside in America team, Bussed Out: How America moves its homeless, TheGuardian.com, Dec. 20, 2017.

New Op-Ed: Life Inside D.C.’s Motel Homeless Shelters

DC homelessness motels

New Op-Ed: Morgan Baskin, Life Inside D.C.’s Motel Homeless Shelters, Wash. City Paper, June 28, 2018.

New Op-Ed: The situation on the streets

SF homelessness

New Op-Ed: Kevin Fagan, The situation on the streets, San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2018.

New Op-Ed: This is what homelessness looks like for my mom

carliving_imageNew Op-Ed: Melody Clark, This is what homelessness looks like for my mom, Curbed Seattle, April 17, 2018.

Thousands of people are experiencing housing instability in Seattle — including those staying on couches and in cars.