Democrats and Republicans Unite to Address Homeless Camp Legislation

( — Two things are often perceived as being true in 2023 America: citizens are deeply politically divided, and homelessness is out of control. The homelessness issue is one that has created some unexpected agreement as political leaders on the left join those on the right who are asking the Supreme Court to revisit past lower court rulings that they feel have hampered cities’ ability to deal with the homeless crisis.

In 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that it was unconstitutional for cities to clear out homeless camps or to criminally charge campers unless the city could provide adequate housing for all. While advocates often cite the personal rights of the people who are homeless, the issue becomes more complicated when a city isn’t looking at individual homeless people but large homeless encampments that are dangerous for the homeless, for public health, and for all residents and visitors to the city.

Finding a workable solution for the rising homelessness problem has been a priority for many cities, despite advocates like Eric Tars from the National Homelessness Law Center commenting that the challenges to the public camping rulings are about further stigmatizing the homeless, not helping them. He adds that there are obvious solutions that government officials simply don’t have “the political will to take.” However, billions have been put aside in California alone to solve the problem, to no avail.

Most cities simply do not have adequate shelter space, and even if they did, many of the homeless cannot be convinced to utilize them. Attorneys for over a dozen cities, including Seattle and Las Vegas, point out in one brief that their cities are suffering increasing negative effects of public camping despite “massive infusions of public resources”. There is no easy or simple solution to what Governor Gavin Newsom has referred to as a “humanitarian crisis.” Perhaps more bipartisan cooperation may lead to new solutions.

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