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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]

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.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (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.

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

Tue, 09 Jun 2015 21:18:45 -0700

MADISON (WKOW) -- Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed a City Council-approved amendment designed to prevent discrimination against the homeless. Earlier this month, council members passed a measure to add homelessness as a protected class in the areas of ...

Channel 2 News

Channel 2 News
Mon, 27 Apr 2015 07:28:50 -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 ...
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 22:48:45 -0800

Currently, the city does not have jurisdiction to examine cases of discrimination against the homeless. Her colleagues, Lucía Nuñez, director of the Department of Civil Rights, and Bill Fetty, president of the Equal Opportunities Commission, clarified ...


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 ...
Lexology (registration)
Tue, 28 Aug 2012 06:44:45 -0700

Rhode Island recently became the first jurisdiction in the United States to pass a law which prohibits employment discrimination based upon the status of being homeless, i.e., the law grants the right to seek and keep a job even if one does not have ...
Human Rights Watch
Sun, 01 Feb 2015 03:27:05 -0800

The Act has brought very real benefits to people living in Britain: preventing the separation of elderly couples, securing accommodation for survivors of domestic violence, and tackling discrimination against the homeless. The ECHR - which British ...
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 03:44:02 -0800

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a temporary injunction giving a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop President Obama's immigration executive orders. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO.

BBC News

BBC News
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 09:07:30 -0700

"It's just pure discrimination against the homeless." Bournemouth Borough Council said there were other more appropriate sites. Ms Wells is helped by her mother Rachel, preparing hot food and drinks. They pay for the ingredients themselves, and receive ...

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