Johnson V. Grants Pass

The most important Supreme Court case about homelessness in 40+ years.

For too long, our brothers and sisters without homes have faced legal and societal barriers that criminalize their existence. Sleeping, eating, and performing other necessary life activities in public spaces—their last resort—are met with penalties rather than support. Johnson v. Grants Pass brings these injustices to the forefront, challenging us all to reconsider how we treat the most vulnerable among us.

This landmark case centers on the rights of homeless individuals in Grants Pass, Oregon, challenging ordinances that penalize life-sustaining activities in public spaces. At its heart, Johnson v. Grants Pass isn’t just about one town; it’s a reflection of the broader struggle for dignity, respect, and the right to exist in public spaces without fear of harassment or punishment.

To learn about Johnson V Grants Pass, visit the official website

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson 

Did you know that the Supreme Court is considering whether not having a home is a crime?

The case is simple: can cities that fail to meet everybody’s basic needs of housing or shelter punish people with no choice but to sleep outside for using things like blankets or pillows?

Johnson v Grants Pass started in Grants Pass, Oregon, when the city began issuing tickets for people sleeping on public property, even when there were no safe, welcoming shelter beds available.

Grants Pass is like many cities in America, it has no welcoming shelter beds and is also thousands of housing units short of what is needed. That shortfall will not be solved by putting more people in jail or issuing more tickets. The solution to homelessness is safe, decent, and affordable housing for everybody

Half of renters in Grants Pass residents are pay more than 30% of their income on rent. The lack of housing that people can afford is a major cause of homelessness in Grants Pass and across the country.

SCOTUS will be considering whether it is ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ to arrest or ticket people for sleeping outside when they have no other safe place to go.

Not criminalizing homelessness is the bare minimum.

Regardless of what the court decides, we need to work together to ensure that all of our neighbors have the housing they need to thrive.

We all want to end homelessness. The fastest and cheapest way to solve homelessness is with housing that meets people’s needs. Things like tickets and jails keep folks homeless longer and waste taxpayer’s hard-earned money.

It’s time to double down on what works to end homelessness- housing, and not focus on things in arrests and fines, which actually make homelessness worse.

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Housing Not Handcuffs Rally

Courtesy of Invisible People ; National Homelessness Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center; C-SPAN.

About the Rally

On Monday, April 22nd, the U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments in an Oregon case that held the potential to shape homelessness policies nationwide. That day, a powerful wave of advocates and partners gathered at the U.S. Supreme Court, echoing a unified message: “Housing Not Handcuffs!”

In a heartfelt display of solidarity, we came together to affirm that our unhoused community members were not alone. At the National Coalition for the Homeless, our commitment to ending homelessness remained unwavering.

We were deeply moved and immensely proud of the advocates, partners, and service providers who stood alongside us in support of this crucial cause. Their bravery and unwavering dedication inspired us all as we continued the fight to eradicate homelessness.

We are profoundly grateful for their remarkable commitment to making a difference. Together, we believed we can create a future where everyone has a place to call home.

Credits: The photos below capture the spirit of our collective effort, photos taken by our Assistant Director of Communications, Kenia Mazariegos, along with Mary Anne Cellini, from NCH’s LA Field Office;  footage courtesy of Mark Horvath, Founder of Invisible People, social media livestream collaboration with the National Homelessness Law Center, Oral Argument by C-Span.

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Resources courtesy of the Law Center