Advocates Participate in National Week of Action to Oppose the Criminalization of Homelessness

Advocates across the nation participated in a National Week of Action starting on April 22 to oppose counterproductive and inhumane efforts to punish and arrest people experiencing homelessness and advocate for the only real solution to the homelessness crisis: safe, stable, affordable housing.

The National Week of Action, hosted by NLIHC, the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC), National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), and National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), began on the same day the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, the most significant court case about the rights of people experiencing homelessness in decades. The court will decide whether communities that have failed to address the need for affordable housing and shelter can punish unhoused people for sleeping outside with tickets, fines, and arrests, even when there are no other safe or adequate housing or shelter options available. 

Advocates across more than 20 states joined in over 50 state and local activations during the National Week of Action to make clear to their elected officials that they want to end homelessness by adopting real solutions. Actions included rallies, camp outs, marches, community discussions, press events, cookouts, film screenings, oral argument listening sessions, social media activations, and traditional media engagement, such as the publication of op-eds. For example, the Texas Homeless Network, an NLIHC state partner, submitted an op-ed that was published in the Austin American-Statesman.

Hundreds of advocates gathered outside the Supreme Court on April 22 for a “Housing Not Handcuffs” rally to oppose harmful efforts to arrest, fine, and ticket unhoused people and advance evidence-based solutions to homelessness. Hundreds more tuned in to a livestream of the event. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel spoke at the Housing Not Handcuffs rally, which was organized by NHLC and NCH. Diane emphasized the underlying causes of homelessness – the severe shortage of affordable, accessible housing available to people with the lowest incomes and the growing gap between income and housing costs – and called on Congress to fund proven solutions at the scale needed.

“Homelessness is caused, not by individual fault, but by systemic failures to make homes affordable to all,” said Diane. “Renters in Grants Pass and in every community across the country are struggling with high rents and wages that cannot keep up. But despite this crisis, Congress refuses to fix a broken housing system where 75% of people in need of housing assistance receive nothing, and as a result, far too many people face eviction and become homeless. It doesn’t have to be this way. Homelessness is solvable when we take action to make homes affordable for everyone, starting with the lowest-income people.”

Other speakers at the rally included Reverend Dr. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign; Helen Cruz, a resident of Grants Pass; the heads of national organizations such as NHLC, NCH, NAEH, Funders Together to End Homelessness, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Network to End Domestic Violence, A Way Home America, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, among others; local organizations, including Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C., the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, and Open Table Nashville; and others. NCH coordinated travel by bus from communities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other states to help advocates and people with lived experience attend the rally in D.C.

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Watch a recording of the rally at:

Learn more about Grants Pass v. Johnson at:

Read a joint statement from NLIHC, NAEH, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the Supreme Court case and the need for leaders to address homelessness with humane, proven strategies at: