Housing, Not Jail, is the Solution.

Supreme Court decision will effectively create parts of America where it is illegal to be poor.

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Grants Pass v. Johnson that allowed cities and states to criminalize sleeping in public places.

It was the wrong decision.

It will make homelessness more devastating for families, push people deeper into poverty, and create parts of the country where it is illegal to be poor.

On any given night, more than 650,000 people—regular people—live in parks, in their cars, on the street, and in abandoned buildings. This causes safety concerns for our cities and towns, but it is a traumatic nightmare for these Americans, each trying to determine how to meet their basic human needs.  

This crisis calls for empathy, not fines – it calls for permanent affordable housing, not prison time.

In their decision, the Supreme Court has ignored the basic humanity of these 650,000 Americans. The Court has endorsed a cruel, unjust law and turned its back on our collective responsibility to care for one another.

The result will leave people broken, cost taxpayers more, and not get us anywhere near solving the problem of homelessness in America. Instead of endorsing draconian measures to outlaw sleep, we should be looking at ways to build more housing, so everyone has a place to live and to raise their families; innovating means to keep people from becoming homeless; and legislating laws to guarantee that people have a right to quality homes in the United States.

For nearly 40 years, HELP USA has been fighting to house our neighbors safely, and this ruling only underscores the critical nature of our efforts. We will not stop, and we join with Justice Sotomayor, who said, in her dissent, that she remains “hopeful that our society will come together to face the complexities of the homeless crisis” and that it is a responsibility “shared by each and every one of us.”

Stay connected to HELP USA and learn more about how you can be a part of the solution.

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