Elsewhere online
August 14, 2015

DOJ Advises Against Banning Homeless From Sleeping Outdoors

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest last week saying that local ordinances that ban homeless people from camping or sleeping outside are unconstitutional and violate Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, The Washington Post reports.

The department filed its statement in a case in Boise, Idaho, but its actions could have broad implications, as the number of municipalities with similar ordinances has grown since the recession.

Many communities find it easier to deal with homelessness as a criminal justice issue rather than a social one, according to an attorney from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, which filed the lawsuit against Boise alongside Idaho Legal Aid Services. Homeless advocates as well as the federal government have argued that the court, prison, and health costs associated with punitive measures are much higher than investing in more housing for the homeless, as some cities have done.