Friday, January 13, 2006


Criminalizing the Homeless

A report on the criminalization of homelessness was released on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 in the law offices of Covington and Burling in Washington D.C. The report was prepared by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP). The report is called “A Dream Denied: The Criminalizaton of Homelessness in U.S. Cities”.

The report cites the 20 meanest cities in the U.S. and bases this rating on ordinances and laws the mean city imposes against homeless people for performing life-sustaining acts in public spaces. In addition to the 20 meanest cities, the report discusses 75 other cities imposing constitutionally questionable policies on the homeless. Washington, D.C. was not one of the 20 meanest cities, but it was on the list of cities that need to improve their approach to the issue of homelessness.

The report can be found at:

There are no anti-loitering laws in DC. These laws were declared unconstitutional in D.C Superior Court in 1968. There is one Drop-in center. It runs from early morning until 3:30 pm in a church in downtown DC. Homeless people can get a shower, clean up, and get a meal there. This drop-in center serves about a hundred people a day. The population living in the streets in D.C. is approximately a thousand.

There are many types of “mean” laws applied to homeless people. Some prevent feeding the homeless where they congregate. DC police often impose this type of law on those who feed homeless people in Dupont Circle. When successfully applied, this law imposes a fine and possible jail time for a violation for feeding the homeless.

When a city doesn’t offer minimal care to its most vulnerable residents, that city is not doing the minimum a government should do to care for its people. Many among the homeless population in this country are U.S military veterans. Sadly, the veteran homeless population grows with more people returning from Iraq. Human services officials in cities that have laws and ordinances on the books which adversely affect the quality of life of their homeless population should read the report to see what simple programs can be implemented to ease the unnecessary burden that is put on the criminal justice system for criminalizing life-sustaining activities of the homeless. Jailing is a lot more costly than sheltering.

By Nancy Shia
January 2006

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Criminalizing Homelessness -- where it's worst

News Conference Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Contact: Michael Stoops from NCH (202) 462-4822
or Melanie Mullen from NLCHP (202) 638-2535


New Study Finds 20 Meanest Cities and Constructive Alternatives to a “Dream Denied”

WASHINGTON, January 6, 2005 – The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) will release their 2006 report tracking the escalating trend of criminalizing
homelessness in 224 U.S. cities.

The report also ranks the top 20 meanest cities in the country based on a number of factors, including the number of
anti-homeless laws in the city, the enforcement of those laws, the general political climate toward homeless people in the city, and the city’s history of criminalization measures.

A Dream Denied focuses on specific city measures from 2005 that have targeted homeless persons, such as laws that make it illegal to sleep, eat, or sit in public spaces or placing restrictions on providers serving food to poor and homeless persons in public spaces.

The report also includes information about constitutional challenges to laws and practices that criminalize homelessness, as well as models for more constructive approaches to homelessness.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 11, at 10 AM EST

WHO: Michael Stoops, Acting Executive Director, National Coalition for the Homeless; Washington, DC
Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; Washington, DC
Tulin Ozdeger, Civil Rights Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; Washington, DC

After brief remarks, the panelists will take questions.

WHERE: Law Offices of Covington & Burling, LLP – 12th Floor Conference Room, Report to 11th floor for entry 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004-2401 Accessible from Metro Center and Federal Triangle stops.

CALL IN: 1-703-788-0600 - PASSCODE: 504892
or 1-888-338-7820 - PASSCODE: 504892

CONTACT: For more information contact Melanie Mullen: or Michael Stoops:, and receive a pre-release Executive Summary.

News Conference Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Contact: Michael Stoops from NCH (202) 462-4822
or Melanie Mullen from NLCHP (202) 638-2535

The report documents criminalization issues in the following 95 cities and includes a comprehensive listing of criminalization laws in 224 cities across the country including:

Albany, CA
Albany, OR
Albemarle, VA
Allentown, PA
Anchorage, AK
Ashland, OR
Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA
Augusta, GA
Augusta, ME
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Bellevue, WA
Berkeley, CA
Bettendorf, IA
Boston, MA
Bradenton, FL
Burlington, WA
Cambridge, MA
Chapel Hill, NC
Charlotte, NC
Charlottesville, VA
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, GA
Columbus, OH
Corvallis, OR
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Des Moines, IA
Evanston, IL
Flagstaff, AZ
Forest Park, IL
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ft. Myers, FL
Gainesville, FL
Healdsburg, CA
Hilo, HI
Honolulu, HI
Houston, TX
Jackson, TN
Jacksonville, FL
Kalamazoo, FL
Kansas City, MO
Lake Worth, FL
Las Vegas, NV
Lawrence, KS
Little Rock, AR
Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Macon, GA
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Minneapolis, MN
Myrtle Beach, SC
Nashville, TN
Newark, NJ
New York, NY
Norwalk, CT
Orlando, FL
Palo Alto, CA
Patchogue Village, NY
Paterson, NJ
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, OR
Portsmouth, NH
Rapid City, SD
Redondo Beach, CA
Rochester, NY
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Bruno, CA
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Juan, PR
San Luis Obispo, CA
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Sarasota, FL
Savannah, GA
Sioux Falls, SD
Somerville, MA
Spokane, WA
Springfield, MA
St. Augustine, FL
St. Louis, MO
Stamford, CT
Ukiah, CA
Ventura, CA
Wahiawa, HI
Washington, DC
Wichita, KS
Woodstock, IL

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