Camping Ban

In the wake of the great recession more people are losing their jobs and their homes.

As the number of homeless people rises the funds available to help them is shrinking. Banning sleeping overnight in public does nothing to stop homelessness. It merely adds to the difficulty of being homeless.

How are those ticketed supposed to pay the fine? How far into the woods do they need to go to avoid detection? How late do they need stay out on Pearl Street before they can head over to the park to lie down?

The law also perpetuates the idea that homeless people are scary and dangerous or lazy and worthless. Perhaps exposure to homeless encampments while hiking or biking or walking the dog would increase our understanding of how diverse the homeless population is and how tough it is to live on the streets. Perhaps we would respond with compassion rather than contempt.

Punishing the homeless and hiding them from view is a bad strategy. It lets us avoid solving the causes of homelessness. The current debate over cutting taxes for the rich and helping the middle class completely ignores the plight of the poor. We need to improve access to mental health treatment and drug rehabilitation and we need to get people back to work. We need to provide stable housing for homeless children and families. In the meantime, let's repeal this counterproductive and potentially unconstitutional law.

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