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Monday, July 22, 2013

Making Homelessness A Crime On Both Sides Of The Atlantic

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Chris Carrington

Two items of news stood out this morning. They come from totally different sources in different countries. They are discussing proposals to make homelessness illegal. Coming from different sides of the Atlantic, their messages are remarkably similar and the proposals made by US and UK lawmakers could have come from the same speech writer.

In the US, Marc Sarnoff, City Commissioner of Miami, is trying to make it illegal to be homeless. He wants to ban sleeping on park benches, meeting friends, congregating in public spaces and even eating while walking along the street. (source)

In the UK, public space protection orders, part of the Anti-social Behavior Crime and Policing Bill (which was outlined in the Queens speech earlier in July), would effectively allow police to prevent groups meeting in parks and make illegal the utilization of a park bench as a bed for the night. You can read more here.

Homelessness needs to be tackled by the provision of affordable housing, not by making those people forced to live on our streets into criminals.

The fact that there are so many people forced to live on the streets is testament to the sad state both the US and the UK are in. Banks foreclosing on family homes left many with no option but to set up homes in campers, cars and vans. Tent cities have sprung up under road bridges and makeshift camps can be found in many wooded areas as families struggle to get back on their feet.

Sadly there are going to be more and more people falling afoul of these laws if they are passed. Decent jobs are nigh or impossible to come by, and when those jobs are removed from the market, by company closure or outsourcing, they are replaced by minimum wage part-time positions that cannot hope to feed and house a family.

Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this article first appeared. Wake the flock up!

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