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Posts Tagged ‘Criminalization’

How our cities are preventing healthy sleep habits

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Civil Rights, Criminalization

7 ways to help the homeless sleep safeCollege students pulling all nighters to write a paper, newborn babies keeping their parents up at all hours, breathing disorders, your partner’s snoring, a good book, stress – there are any number of things that keep housed folks up at night. There is loads of research that shows that Americans are terrible at getting enough sleep. But are we all aware that we can add our cities’ own bad policy to the list of things keeping us from a good nights rest?

March 6-13th marks National Sleep Awareness Week, and while many are learning about powering down their devices before bed or other relaxation techniques, there are thousands of Americans who are being all but sleep-deprived by anti-camping bans and ordinances disallowing sitting or lying in public places.

Homelessness is at crisis levels, and there is simply not enough shelter space for the shear number of people who have lost permanent housing. This past August, the US Department of Justice suggested public camping bans could be unconstitutional, saying, “Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights.”

Homelessness is tough in so many ways, but we don’t always realize the critical role sleep plays in helping our neighbors get back on their feet. It has been well documented that not having your own bed in which you can relax, feel safe and rest can be damaging to one’s health. Watch this video from our partner Denver Homeless Out Loud, where a young woman details how the lack of sleep has affected her since she became homeless.

Its high time we stopped punishing our neighbors for losing their home and being down on their luck, and started to invest again in affordable housing. Help us promote #SafeSleep and the #Right2Rest during National Sleep Awareness Week!

Illegal to be a Good Samaritan

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Civil Rights, Criminalization, Food Sharing, Hunger

When did we start expecting that sharing a meal with the hungry and homeless is illegal?

Homeless People Deserve Food TooNCH often receives calls from generous individuals and organizations who wish to feed the homeless in their city.  They call with reasonable questions, aware of the potential illegality of helping others, to ask about food distribution bans or restrictions in their area.  Within the last two years (2013-2015) over 26 cities and communities have passed laws restricting the distribution of food to the homeless, and the number is growing every year.  Those kind enough to want to feed the hungry must jump through hoops and navigate red tape simply to share food with others.

Food-sharing restrictions do not address the root causes of homelessness and poverty in the United States.  Instead, they create barriers for those trying to help.  And yet, over time, these restrictions on food sharing have become the norm.  The idea that sharing meals with others should be regulated by the law is no longer a surprise to most people, in fact, it is expected.

Our societal entrenchment in rules and regulations slows our ability to express kindness and generosity for others.  In order to address poverty, hunger, and homelessness, we must find a way to break free of this attitudinal obstacle and take thoughtful action, free of restraint.

Take a look at our October, 2014 report “Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People in Need” for more details on the state of bans in the country.

-Kara Kennedy
NCH Summer Intern

Putting our heads together to find the Criminalization of Homelessness

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Food Sharing, Hate Crimes, Policy Advocacy, Tent Cities, Violence Against the Homeless

Thirty eight grassroots organizations from around the nation gathered in Denver last week to discuss the criminalization of homelessness. NCH helped fundraise for the event, one of the largest strategy sessions with our field partners in many years. A growing trend of criminalization laws have made it illegal for homeless people to eat, sleep or even ask for help. As a consequence, those who inhabit public spaces have their lives constantly interrupted by law enforcement, racking up arrest records for petty crimes that exist only as penalties for being homeless. Advocates came away from the Denver strategy session with renewed energy to fight these policies and protect the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness.

Advocates from across the country show their fighting spirit

Advocates from across the country show their fighting spirit

 

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