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Discriminatory legislation regarding homelessness
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, actions intended to divert the homeless from particular areas, or enforcing laws on the homeless and not on those who are not homeless.
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".
Criminalization of homelessness in the United States
There is a growing trend in the United States towards criminalizing the state of being homeless. 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.
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.
- Anti-homelessness legislation
- List of organizations opposing homelessness
- Homeless dumping
- Skid row
- black triangle (badge)
- Cunningham, Kelly (1999). Out of Sight--Out of Mind?. DIANE Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 0-7881-8276-5.
- 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"
- National Coalition for the Homeless: A Dream Denied.
- Fantz, Ashley, "Teen 'sport killings' of homeless on the rise", CNN, February 20, 2007.
- Lewan, Todd, "Unprovoked Beatings of Homeless Soaring", Associated Press, April 8, 2007.
- 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.
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