CRIMINALIZATION

The response to homelessness in the most unaffordable U.S. cities? Lock ‘em up

FEATURED

In many cities, it’s illegal to beg for food or money

It’s illegal to sleep on a park bench. It’s illegal to stand in one place for too long. In hundreds of American cities, it’s a crime to be homeless.

LATEST STORIES

Felons are struggling for housing and jobs in Northwest Arkansas

For some, getting released from incarceration means getting to go home to their families. For others, it means a new sentence to homelessness, unemployment and missed opportunities.

Community courts and the homeless: Do these programs make a difference?

Community courts offer a choice for the homeless — but do they work?

Homeless bills of rights are a new iteration of anti-discrimination laws

Many states have passed, or are considering, laws protecting homeless people from discrimination.

Arkansas jail releases inmates, dozens of them homeless, amid COVID-19

The Washington County Detention Center — one of the largest jails in Arkansas — released a third of its inmates, including some homeless detainees, over a 10-day span to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak behind bars.

ABOUT THIS SERIES

There are more than a half-million people who are homeless in America, living in cars, shelters and on the street. A national consortium of student reporters fanned out across the country to find out how communities are responding. Learn more about the reporting behind the stories here.

This work is a collaboration among the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and Capital News Service, the University of Oregon, Stanford University, Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, Boston University and the University of Florida. 

"Our law does not permit punishment of the homeless simply for being homeless."

- MASSACHUSETTS SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT

CASE STUDIES

Homelessness is a national problem that needs to be addressed on a community level.

In Ocala, strict policing pushes the homeless out of sight

A federal lawsuit alleges draconian measures in Ocala, Florida, to address homelessness are not only discriminatory but unconstitutional.

A First Amendment right to feed?

A constitutional clash between a religious belief in feeding the hungry and a city food-sharing ban.

In rural West Virginia, drug evictions create obstacles to housing the homeless

Experts say trouble is brewing in Martinsburg, West Virginia, because of a city law called the “drug house ordinance.”

Top photo: Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times