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Position Statement on Sanctioned Encampments

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

There are cities throughout the United States moving displaced citizens onto public land typically in tents calling these locations “sanctioned encampments.” It is the position of the National Coalition for the Homeless that housing is a human right which is defined as a safe, affordable, accessible place to call a home. The issue is that by identifying a “sanctioned encampment” cities by default are declaring that there are “unsanctioned” encampments.  NCH does not believe that people who are experiencing a period of homelessness should become involved with law enforcement while trying to survive. 

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan
  • It should go without saying, but in the current divided society with words being distorted to become propaganda for those who want to make it illegal to be without housing, we must say that a tent is not a permanent solution to homelessness.  Secure, safe, accessible and affordable housing should be available to every family or single individual who requests a place to live. 
  • In a free society, a person should be able to congregate with others and peacefully assemble in groups of their choosing not forced to live where the municipal government decides with neighbors of their choosing.
  • No one should be forced by any authority or coerced to choose between a place with large numbers packed together or face criminalization for being homeless and living without shelter. Whether this is forcing someone into a congregate living facility that strips a person of their dignity or sending them to a government sanctioned site to pitch a tent, people living in the United States have always cherished the free will to not be told what neighborhood or municipality to reside in by government or government funded organizations.
  • Persons who refuse forced entry into any facility must not be categorized as “service resistant” and thereby face incarceration or exclusion from services. They should receive trauma informed care by trained professionals and be met with services they request not services forced on them. 
  • In the current environment in which municipal governments have largely given up on affordable housing solutions to homelessness and instead resorted to using law enforcement as the primary point of contact for those without housing, we see a broader trend in which the mere offer of any kind of assistance or social service is enough for local governments and law enforcement to justify penalty, arrest or a threat to withdraw a person’s liberty for those who reject the help.  We believe that sanctioned encampments will be used as permanent placements for local jurisdictions to avoid providing safe, affordable, accessible and permanent housing.
  • Sanctioned encampments are an inexpensive alternative to building housing or shelters that serve the needs of those individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. 
  • Local governments should not act as nannies for adults and force them to a segregated section of town to live under a set of rules developed by strangers under threat of arrest if the taxpayer strays from the sanctioned encampment.  

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