Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them? Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States. It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail. In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes. And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit. Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.
Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else. But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.
One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston. In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold…
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).
With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.
According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…
1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).
2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.
3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.
4. They also can’t have heating devices.
5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.
6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.
If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.
But where are they going to go?
Things are almost as bad in Dallas. In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”
When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.
Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful. For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver…
Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.
The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.
Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances. According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…
City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be homeless.
For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.
In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles.
As I have warned repeatedly, we are seeing hearts grow cold all around us. Instead of doing everything that they can to try to help those in need, communities are trying to make them go some place else, and those that try to feed and help the homeless are being harshly penalized.
Sadly, all of this comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise all over America. In a previous article I pointed out that in New York City the number of homeless people recently hit a brand new all-time high, and things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the L.A. City Council has formally requested that Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency.
We tend to think of the homeless as bearded old men with drinking problems, but the truth is that many of the homeless are children.
In fact, the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.
If this is how we are going to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society while things are still relatively stable, how are we going to be treating one another when the economy completely collapses?
If you want to be a “Good Samaritan” to the homeless in your community, you might want to check and see if it is legal first. All over the country, cities are passing laws that make it illegal to feed and shelter the homeless. For example, in this article you will read about a church in Maryland that was just fined $12,000 for simply allowing homeless people to sleep outside the church at night. This backlash against homeless people comes at a time when homelessness in America is absolutely exploding. In a previous article, I shared with my readers the fact that the number of homeless people in New York City has just set a brand new all-time high, and the homelessness crisis in California has become so severe that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. Sadly, instead of opening up our hearts to the rapidly growing number of Americans without a home, way too many communities are trying to use the law to force them to go somewhere else.
For nearly two thousand years, churches have been at the forefront of helping the poor and disadvantaged, but now many communities are trying to stop this from happening. Earlier today, I was absolutely stunned when I came across an article that talked about how a church in Dundalk, Maryland has been fined $12,000 for allowing the homeless to sleep outside the church at night…
“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we’re going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night,” said Reverend Katie Grover with the Patapsco United Methodist Church.
Grover added that the men and women who sleep outside their doors do so because they have nowhere else to go and because they feel safe there.
“We feel we here as a church that it’s scriptural mandate that’s it an imperative to care for the least, the last, the lost, the poor, the hungry,” she said.
The authorities in Dundalk say that the church is running a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house”, and the severity of this fine is likely to put the church in significant financial difficulty if it is forced to pay it. You can watch a local news report discussing this story on YouTube right here…
Of course Dundalk is far from alone. All across the U.S. laws have been passed that specifically target the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the following are some of the most typical ways that the homeless are targeted…
Carrying out sweeps (confiscating personal property including tents, bedding, papers, clothing, medications, etc.) in city areas where homeless people live.
Making panhandling illegal.
Making it illegal for groups to share food with homeless persons in public spaces.
Enforcing a “quality of life” ordinance relating to public activity and hygiene.
There are some people that have been feeding the hungry for decades that now find that their work has been suddenly made illegal. For instance, down in Houston a Good Samaritan named Jay Hamberger is outraged that the help that he has been providing to the homeless for 27 years has now made him an outlaw…
Jay Hamberger has been bringing food to Houston’s homeless for 27 years. He feels the city is infringing on his right to help others by requiring him to have prior permission to distribute food on public and private property.
“I’ve done it with impunity for 27 years now, and I’m the most law-abiding outlaw, because what I’m doing is illegal,” Hamberger said. “My understanding is that there’s no legal way to make this right with the city.”
This is just another example of how our society is being strangled to death by control freaks.
If I see someone that is desperately hungry and I want to give that person food, then I am going to do it no matter what the law says.
Unfortunately, as the homelessness crisis continues to escalate these types of laws are only going to increase. Even in supposedly “tolerant” areas of the country we are seeing draconian measures being implemented. For example, just check out the new ordinance that was just passed in Los Angeles…
LA legislators passed an ordinance that would ban people from sleeping in cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) near homes, parks and schools. Advocates see the ordinance as the latest move to criminalize homeless people.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the ordinance on Wednesday. Banning people from sleeping near homes, schools and parks in their vehicles, would, if signed into law, only make it legal to sleep overnight in cars and RV’s in industrial or commercial districts from 9:00pm to 6:00am.
As millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years, we have seen an explosion in the number of people living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles. This is something that I addressed in my recent article entitled “Living In A Van Down By The River – Time To Face The True State Of The Middle Class In America“. During this time of the year many that live in their vehicles head for warmer climates, and cities like Los Angeles are responding to the influx of homeless people by trying to force them to go somewhere else.
And this “war on the homeless” has actually been ramping up for quite a while. Just check out these numbers from the Washington Post…
Cities have enacted a wave of crackdowns and new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. They say such efforts help preserve the renewed vitality, curbing crime, health problems and behaviors that bother residents and disrupt business.
Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.
Homeless people do not have a permanent address, and there is always a temptation to try to force them to go somewhere else so that they become someone else’s problem.
But the truth is that we have a massive national crisis on our hands. The number of homeless children in this country has increased by 60 percent since the end of the last recession, and the number of homeless people sleeping in shelters has risen to record levels in major cities on both the east and west coast.
And considering the fact that about two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck, how bad will things get once the next major recession strikes?
Poverty is growing all over the nation, and at the same time hearts all over America are growing very cold.
I truly fear for what this country is going to look like just a few years from now.
Have you ever given food to a homeless person? Well, if you do it again in the future it might be a criminal act depending on where you live. Right now, there are dozens of major U.S. cities that have already passed laws against feeding the homeless. As you will read about below, in some areas of the country you can actually be fined hundreds of dollars for just trying to give food to a hungry person. I know that sounds absolutely insane, but this is what America is turning into. Communities all over the country are attempting to “clean up the streets” by making it virtually illegal to either be homeless or to help those that are homeless. Instead of spending more money on programs to assist the homeless, local governments are bulldozing tent cities and giving homeless people one way bus tickets out of town. We are treating some of the most vulnerable members of our society like human garbage, and it is a national disgrace.
What does it say about our country when we can’t even give a warm sandwich to a desperately hungry person that is sleeping on the streets? A retired couple down in Florida named Debbie and Chico Jimenez wanted to do something positive for their community during their retirement years, so they started feeding the homeless in Daytona Beach. But recently the police decided to crack down on their feeding program and slapped everyone involved with a $373 fine…
But on Wednesday, the Jimenezes said that without warning, they and four other volunteers were accosted by police, fined and told that they could be thrown in jail if they continue their program, according to NBC News.
Each of the six was fined $373 and were given 10 days to either pay up or go to court.
Don’t the police down in Daytona Beach have something better to do with their time?
Sadly, more than 50 major cities have passed laws against feeding the homeless at this point. It appears that “cleaning up the streets” has become a big point of emphasis all over the nation.
And what the city of Camden, New Jersey just did is even worse than what happened in Daytona Beach.
Camden just bulldozed an entire tent city and dumped all of the belongings of the homeless people living there into the trash…
Hazmat teams showed up at the camps in the early morning to search for syringes. A drug-sniffing dog followed a police officer around the area. And bulldozers tossed trash and discarded belongings into dumpsters before razing the premises.
Over the past few weeks, flyers had warned people in the tent cities that this was going to happen. Yet it still seemed surreal to many of them that their communities were about to bedemolished for good.
But for most of the people that were living in that tent city, there is no place else for them to go. The homeless shelters in the area are at max capacity, and so many of them will end up sleeping in the streets without any shelter at all…
Aaron Howe, the “mayor” of a tent city that had 12 tents the night before evictionday, said he had called every shelter in town and not a single place had room for him and his girlfriend.
“There’s no available spots, and the city is saying if we pitch a tent somewhere else they’re gonna rip it down,” he said. “It’s not gonna look good when there’s a bunch of homeless on the streets.”
Other big cities that are a little bit more “progressive” are attempting to get rid of their homeless populations by giving them one way tickets out of town. Some of the major cities that are doing this include San Diego and San Francisco…
When her Greyhound bus pulled into town 6 months ago, Maria Castillo got off with two bags and dream.
“Start over, start a new life,” said the 42-year-old.
Castillo had been homeless in San Diego when a social worker offered her a one-way bus ticket to Portland.
“They said come here because all the opportunities in Portland, Oregon,” she said.
But Castillo said life isn’t much better in her new town. She’s still homeless. A Unit 8 investigation found several cities from San Diego to San Francisco are providing one-way bus tickets to the homeless.
As shocking as everything that you just read is, what one lawmaker out in Hawaii is doing tops it all. In a previous article, I described how a state representative named Tom Brower has actually been using a sledgehammer to destroy shopping carts used by homeless people. Just check out the following short excerpt from an RT article that was published a few months ago…
In the past two weeks residents in Hawaii noticed what appeared to be a crazed individual carrying a sledgehammer through the streets of Honolulu, a state lawmaker looking to rid the city of homeless people by targeting their belongings.
State Representative Tom Brower (D) is currently dedicated to dealing out his own personal brand of “justice” by seeking out homeless people and destroying their possessions. Brower estimates that he has used the sledgehammer to smash at least 30 shopping carts, rendering them useless by bashing in the front wheels.
“I got tired of telling people I’m trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he told Hawaii News Now. “I find abandoned junk, specifically shopping carts, and I remove them.”
Is this how our society is going to treat those that are down on their luck from now on?
Where is the love?
Where is the compassion?
Why can’t we seem to be able to take care of these people?
The federal government sure seems to have plenty of money to waste on other things. For example, it is being reported that workers at an Obamacare processing facility in Missouri are being paid to do nothing but stare at their computers…
Employees at an ObamaCare processing center in Missouri with a contract worth $1.2 billion are reportedly getting paid to do nothing but sit at their computers.
“Their goals are set to process two applications per month and some people are not even able to do that,” a whistleblower told KMOV-TV, referring to employees hired to process paper applications for ObamaCare enrollees.
The facility in Wentzville is operated by Serco, a company owned by a British firm that was awarded $1.2 billion in part to hire 1,500 workers to handle paper applications for coverage under the law, according to The Washington Post.
The whistleblower employee told the station that weeks can pass without data entry workers receiving even a single application to process. Employees reportedly spend their days staring at their computers, according to a KMOX-TV report.
So we have millions upon millions of dollars to waste on that, but we can’t take care of our homeless population?
And without a doubt, the need to help the homeless is greater than it ever has been before. Right now, there are 1.2 million public school students in America that are homeless. That number is an all-time record, and it has grown by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.