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4A. Housing, Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness and Promoting the Right to Housing

A growing number of communities have enacted laws that treat the life-sustaining activities of homeless people, such as sleeping or sitting down, as crimes when performed in public places. The experience of these communities has shown, however, that such laws are ineffective at reducing visible homelessness, and instead worsen the problem. Moreover, these laws waste limited taxpayer resources, and often violate the civil and human rights of homeless people. Combating the criminalization of homelessness presents a strategic opportunity to advance the human right to housing through well-crafted litigation and policy advocacy strategies. This workshop will discuss several of these strategies, and also describe new federal tools available to help local advocates move communities away from criminalization and toward policies that work.

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