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Statement from National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel on SCOTUS Refusal to Criminalize Homeless People Sleeping on the Streets

Washington, DC - Our country’s shortage of affordable homes for the lowest income renters is severe and pervasive, impacting rural, suburban and urban communities alike. Nationally, for every ten of the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children and others, there are fewer than four affordable homes available to them. As a result of the severe shortage, nearly eight million of the lowest income families pay more than half of their limited income to keep a roof over their heads, leaving them one financial emergency away from eviction and possible homelessness. Millions more people are living doubled or tripled up to afford rent or have been left with no choice but to sleep in cars, RVs, shelters, or on the street.

Criminalizing people who are homeless for sleeping on the street when they literally have no alternative is inhumane and unconstitutional. The cruelty of it is breathtaking – arresting exhausted, deeply poor and vulnerable Americans for struggling to meet the most basic human need for sleep when there is literally nowhere else but the sidewalk or a park bench for them to lay down on. The fines and criminal records they are saddled with make it harder to obtain housing in the future, spiraling them deeper into poverty with all of its associated costs for the individual, the community and our country.

Cities must stop attempting to criminalize and hide their communities’ homeless people and instead work towards providing real solutions, starting with the only thing that truly ends homelessness: access to safe, affordable, accessible homes.


About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensure people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.