Thoughts on criminalizing homelessness

Law is the authorization of the use of force to hold everyone in the society to a social agreement.

What is our social agreement on homelessness?

If “People shouldn’t be homeless; ¬†we have failed them” the llegislative response to homelessness will be along the lines of a “Right to Housing” law.

If “People shouldn’t be homeless; they have failed” the legislative response will be to criminalize the survival behaviors of homeless people; getting food out of dumpsters, peeing in alleys, sleeping in the park.

If enough people believe that when we make homelessness painful enough people will just stop being homeless, criminalization will get worse and worse.

The only way to reverse that is to reverse the social agreement. Agree that everyone SHOULD have the means of survival with dignity — which includes your own housing– and that an economic system where many people are without that needs changing.

I’m not going to say the system is broken. The economic system works as designed for the people it benefits, and the legal system works to enforce it.

It will change when enough of us decide to change it. Not before.

Leave a Reply