Should Los Angeles Really Be Arresting Homeless People For Being Homeless?

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Image via Jimmy Baikovicius / Creative Commons

Los Angeles has made a very public effort to address the issue of homelessness in the city—in response to the growing problem of people having to live on the streets, the city put together a $1.85-billion plan to combat homelessness through the coordination of services and the creation of housing. But at the same time, advocates say, they’re sending another very strong message to homeless residents by arresting them for keeping their makeshift shelters and possessions on the street—in other words, arresting the homeless for being homeless, the LA Times says.

The LA City Council is working on tweaking an ordinance passed a year ago that would allow them to increase sweeps of the improvised shelters where the homeless stay; they’re trying to “link the sweeps to increased storage for homeless people,” says the Times. But activists say that “while politicians wrestle with the ordinance, the Los Angeles Police Department is taking and destroying tents and other property left even briefly in the streets.” (The city was sued over a previous version of the ordinance.)

Homelessness shot up 12 percent between 2014 and 2015 in LA (and in LA County too). Maps charting where homeless Angelenos live show that the issue touches pretty much every part of town (though obviously some areas have more homeless residents than others). Temporary shelter options countywide are decreasing, meanwhile, meaning people have fewer options for places to go to be off the streets. The vast majority of the money LA spends on homelessness goes to law enforcement.

· Activists call on L.A. City Council to stop arresting homeless people for being homeless [LAT]

· Los Angeles Passes New Rules to Just Take Some People’s Stuff [Curbed LA]

· Los Angeles Seems to Have Abandoned Its Homelessness State of Emergency Already [Curbed LA]

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