The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently called on U.S. officials to abolish laws criminalizing homelessness in concluding observations from the body’s fifth periodic report on the country.
Concluding observations are produced at the end of every session for participating states to review. They often include policy recommendations from the U.N. for states to meet the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, originally adopted in 1966. The recommendations are not legally binding.
It comes as state and local officials continue to pass a litany of laws that criminalize aspects of homelessness, like sleeping outside, sharing food, and panhandling. The recommendations also follow a report from the National Homelessness Law Center that shows the U.S. is failing to stem the tide of rising homelessness and failing to provide adequate, affordable housing.
“Making it illegal to be homeless is an expensive way to make homelessness worse. We need housing, not handcuffs,” David Peery, an advocate with lived experience and the executive director of the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Justice, said in a press release.
Laws criminalizing homelessness are not new in the U.S. Still, their existence is becoming more pernicious as high rents and home prices continue to shake the stability of many low-income earning households.
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