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Discrimination against the homeless is the act of treating the homeless, or those perceived to be homeless, unfavorably. As with most types of discrimination it can manifest in numerous forms.

Discriminatory legislation regarding homelessness[edit]

Use of the law to discriminate against the homeless takes on disparate forms: restricting the public areas in which sitting or sleeping are allowed, ordinances restricting aggressive panhandling,[1] actions intended to divert the homeless from particular areas, penalizing loitering or anti-social behavior,[2] or enforcing laws on the homeless and not on those who are not homeless.[3]

The French novelist Anatole France noted this phenomenon as long ago as 1894, famously observing that "the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges".[4]

Criminalization of homelessness in the United States[edit]

There is a growing trend in the United States towards criminalizing the state of being homeless.[5] Proponents of this approach believe that punitive measures will deter people from a homeless lifestyle.

To this end, cities across the country increasingly outlaw life-sustaining activities—such as sleeping, eating, sitting, and begging—in public spaces, and selectively enforce more neutral laws—such as those prohibiting open containers or loitering—against homeless populations.[5]

Violators of such laws typically incur criminal penalties, which result in fines or incarceration or both. Homeless people with new "criminal charges" have very restrictive housing and employment options, if either, for years.

In April 2006 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that "making it a crime to be homeless by charging them with a crime is in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments."[6]

Criminal victimization[edit]

Precise factors associated with victimization and injury to the homeless are not clearly understood. Nearly one-half of homeless are victims of violence.[7]

There have been many violent crimes committed against the homeless due to their being homeless.[8] A study in 2007 found that this number is increasing.[9][10]

Advocacy and awareness[edit]

National Alliance to End Homelessness[edit]

The National Alliance to End Homelessness offers an organized spread of homeless issues and solutions while providing means of donation and support. President Nan Roman expresses that in her opinion, "People will always have problems and crises. But in a nation as wealthy as ours, where human life is valued, widespread homelessness need not—and SHOULD not—exist."[11] The National Alliance to End Homelessness contains three main groups: the Homelessness Research Institute, the Research Council, and the Center for Capacity Building.

National Hunger and Awareness Week[edit]

The National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is held every year the week before Thanksgiving to raise awareness of issues relating to hunger and homelessness in communities.[12] The National Coalition for the Homeless offers guidelines and educational tools that encourage the public to get involved. The NCH's goal is to attack the prominent hunger and homelessness issues of today. Participants are encouraged to share thanks and help fellow community members in times of need. The H&H week is ultimately set up to be a national movement and each year the week is focused on specific goals.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.nlchp.org/documents/Criminalizing_Crisis
  2. ^ "Britain: Where have all the homeless gone?; The homeless;". The Economist 372 (8388): 21–49. 
  3. ^ Cunningham, Kelly (1999). Out of Sight--Out of Mind?. DIANE Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 0-7881-8276-5. 
  4. ^ France, Anatole (1894). "VII". Le lys rouge (in French). Ils y doivent travailler devant la majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts 
  5. ^ a b National Coalition for the Homeless: A Dream Denied.
  6. ^ http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/8138B5E4723C6FE988257150005B327E/$file/0455324.pdf?openelement
  7. ^ Meinbresse; Brinkley-Rubinstein, Grassette, Benson, Hall, Hamilton, Malott, Jenkins (2014). "Exploring the Experiences of Violence Among Individuals Who Are Homeless Using a Consumer-Led Approach.". Violence & Victims 29 (1): 122–136.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help);
  8. ^ Fantz, Ashley, "Teen 'sport killings' of homeless on the rise", CNN, February 20, 2007.
  9. ^ Lewan, Todd, "Unprovoked Beatings of Homeless Soaring", Associated Press, April 8, 2007.
  10. ^ National Coalition for the Homeless, Hate, "Violence, and Death on Main Street USA: A report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness, 2006", February 2007.
  11. ^ "Message from the President". www.endhomelessness.org. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  12. ^ a b "National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week - National Coalition for the Homeless". National Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_the_homeless — Please support Wikipedia.
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274 news items

Hartford Courant

Hartford Courant
Mon, 07 Dec 2015 16:57:45 -0800

Burton, 64, was credited with co-authoring the "Homeless Person's Bill of Rights," state legislation passed in 2013 to ban discrimination against the homeless. He had also been one of the first writers for the Beat of the Street newspaper, a ...
Hartford Courant
Fri, 18 Dec 2015 12:11:49 -0800

Burton advocated for 2013 state legislation to ban discrimination against the homeless, and for a time had been active in programs through the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, from taking classes through its B.O.T.S. Center for Creative ...

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:08:16 -0800

... is this man not allowed to protect himself. Maybe it is because he did not have his arsenal properly secured, no that cannot be it or there would be a lot of parents in prison today. I hope the nra take up this case, this is discrimination against ...

FOX31 Denver

FOX31 Denver
Mon, 27 Apr 2015 07:31:51 -0700

Supporters say it will go a long way to defeat what they believe is discrimination against the homeless in many cities. Denver passed an urban camping ban a couple of years ago targeting the homeless and is not backing the proposed bill. Opponents say ...


Thu, 18 Jun 2015 14:58:52 -0700

With funding through the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multicultural Fund, the project aims to end discrimination against the homeless. Its focus is to unify the community as well as bring awareness to discriminatory experiences many homeless ...

Redheaded Blackbelt

Redheaded Blackbelt
Mon, 21 Dec 2015 18:37:33 -0800

Eureka Police responded with lights and sirens to the report of an attempted robbery at the Shell Station on West Harris about 6 p.m. tonight. According to scanner traffic, a 31-year-old male was detained. The man was already on probation for trespass, ...


Wed, 12 Aug 2015 02:56:15 -0700

We were pleased when the City Council voted overwhelmingly to override Mayor Paul Soglin's veto of the move to prevent discrimination against the homeless. History informs us, as does contemporary experience, that people who live on the streets rarely ...

KRQE News 13

KRQE News 13
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 17:01:58 -0700

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque Walmart is making customers check their bags if they want to shop there. Walk into the Walmart on San Mateo near Zuni and there are signs posted saying backpacks and large bags are not allowed. “I don't believe ...

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