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NLIHC Statement on Supreme Court Ruling in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

Washington, D.C. – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) strongly condemns the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson to allow jurisdictions to arrest and ticket unhoused people for sleeping outside, even when adequate shelter or housing is not available.

“This cruel, misguided ruling will only worsen homelessness,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “It gives cover to elected officials who choose political expediency over real solutions by merely moving unhoused people out of public view rather than working to solve their homelessness. These ineffective and inhumane tactics exacerbate homelessness by saddling unhoused people with debt they can’t pay, while further isolating them from the services and support they need to become stably housed. To truly address and solve homelessness, policymakers must instead work with urgency to scale up proven solutions, starting with greater investments in affordable housing and supportive services.”

The Supreme Court’s decision comes as more and more elected officials choose to arrest, ticket, or fine people experiencing homelessness for sleeping outside, even when their jurisdictions have failed to provide adequate housing and shelter. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), more than 650,000 people experienced homelessness on any given night in 2023, the highest level on record. As homelessness has increased, many state and local elected officials face political pressure to respond to the crisis, but too many have turned to politically expedient, ineffective, and inhumane measures that punish unhoused people for not having a home.

Arrests and fines are not solutions to homelessness because they do not address the underlying causes of the crisis. Instead, these measures make it more difficult for people to access the affordable housing, health services, and employment necessary to become rehoused.

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