Sweepless Summer 2022

This summer, we are calling on cities to stop the forceful clearing of homeless encampments!

NCH urges government officials to stop criminalizing homelessness. Instead, many city governments have embraced a hardline strategy of “sweeps,” relying on police enforcement to clear homeless encampments, who inhumanely destroy the belongings of people experiencing homelessness and displace an already marginalized community. Some advocates for the homeless argue that these evictions do not need to happen.

“Sweeps are inhumane and immoral and must immediately end. Housing is a human right, and we need to mobilize for housing justice,” insists Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, President of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “Sweeps must end. Destroying people’s belongings and unleashing harassment are forms of violence that are totally unacceptable. It is shameful that we live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world and we have millions of individual and families, including millions of children and youth, living in extreme poverty, and experiencing homelessness in the United States. Targeted harassment toward people experiencing homelessness is criminal. Sweeps are traumatizing, destabilizing, dangerous, and beyond cruel.”

Black tent outline with the protest sign that states Homes not Sweeps

NCH will host a vigil on June 17th featuring guest speakers and people impacted by theft and fines from local authorities during the destruction of encampments.  The event will be held at the Northwest corner of the Ellipse, at 17th and E Streets NW, from 6pm Friday, June 17, through 9am Saturday, June 18. Participants will then join the Poor People’s Campaign, Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls.   

A recent study commissioned by the U.S. government found that sweeps of encampments waste millions of dollars each year and do little to solve homelessness – many of those displaced setting up another encampment nearby. Lack of affordable housing options and restrictive shelter policies were found to be the top drivers of people who are unhoused into encampment communities. 

Housing costs were high before the pandemic, and have continued to rise. The median inflation-adjusted rent has increased 13.0 percent since 2001, while the median inflation-adjusted renter’s income has only increased 0.5 percent during that same period. 

Instead of confronting this affordable housing crisis in the United States, local Mayors have turned to law enforcement to solve a social service issue.  “This is exactly the wrong approach and will only make the problems associated with homelessness dramatically worse,” said Donald Whitehead, the Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “ We have never seen this level of hate directed at people struggling to find stable housing. Attacking people who are homeless for personal gain is the most despicable thuggery I can imagine, and we shouldn’t let it happen without a fight.”

Sister actions will be taking place in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Nashville, Orlando, and Northfield, MN. Follow the event Facebook, or see more below.