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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Housing Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities

Type new
Paper/Research Report
Year published new

National Law Center on Homelessness


This report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (the Law Center) provides an overview of criminalization measures in effect across the country and looks at trends in the criminalization of homelessness, based on an analysis of the laws in 187 cities that the Law Center has tracked since 2006. This report analyzes local trends related to the enforcement of these laws and describes the growing federal trend to oppose and discourage local criminalization policies and practices. Next, the report discusses the ineffectiveness of laws criminally or civilly punishing life-sustaining activities among those experiencing homelessness, the cost of these laws to taxpayers, and how they often violate homeless persons’ constitutional and human rights. Finally, the Law Center recommends alternative practices for federal, state, and local governments to address the problem of visible homelessness in a sensible, humane, and legal way. (author abstract modified)


Available for free download on the Law Centers website at:

Accession number
Electronically published journal article, but not part of an issue