Over the weekend the Albuquerque police made an arrest of three young people accused of killing two homeless people. This after police shot a homeless person who was giving himself up earlier this year. It seems that cities that mistreat homeless people or pass laws directed at homeless people are also the cities that have higher numbers of hate crimes directed at homeless people. Albuquerque police have a large number of officers involved in shootings (40) of which 26 were killed since 2010.
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty just released a report on the large number of laws directed at homeless people. The Law Center details the surprising rise in cities which have made it illegal to feed people outside. There are panhandling laws, anti-sitting laws, anti-"camping" laws, loitering, and no feeding laws. These "quality of life" ordinances are on the rise, and there are consultants sitting in hotel conference centers crafting new ways to hide homeless people. Then there are police actions to arrest and hide homeless people. These include private security for Business Improvement Districts harassing homeless people to go into hiding. Then in those cities that use law enforcement to solve homelessness there is a corresponding increase in attacks on homeless people.
In the 1990s, when there were routine arrests of homeless people for sleeping outside in Cleveland we also saw regular attacks on homeless people. We saw the stun gun attacks and bricks being thrown from motorists. We have not seen the level of hate crimes that they see in Cincinnati, which still has not worked out how they deal with a growing population. If government targets homeless people with laws or arrests it seems to give cover to violent or fringe elements of society to attack fragile populations. If you place the National Coalition for the Homeless hate crimes report on top of the National Law Center criminalization report you see some huge overlapping cities especially in cities in Florida.
We have been dealing with homelessness for 40 years, and it seems as though cities have not learned anything. They still try to deal the problems associated with homeless people instead of dealing with the root cause of homelessness: housing. They are still trying to regulate homelessness out of existence instead of providing affordable housing and behavioral health services. Fair share development laws, minimum wage increases, universal access to treatment are sure fire ways to end homelessness. Passing "quality of life laws" are sure fire ways to prolong homelessness.
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