Alliance Online News: Justice Department Says Sleeping Bans are Unconstitutional

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Justice Department to Federal Court: Sleeping Bans are Unconstitutional
The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest on Thursday, August 6, in federal district court arguing that ordinances that criminalize sleeping in public, when there is insufficient shelter space available, violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The statement was filed in response to the case Bell v. City of Boise et al., which homeless plaintiffs brought against the city of Boise after they were convicted under city ordinances that made sleeping or camping in public illegal.
“Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place,” the Justice Department said in the statement. “If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”
The court has not yet reached a decision in this case. While the Justice Department statement has no independent legal authority, the argument outlined in its statement of interest could influence the court’s decision.
Read the statement »
alliance events
Upcoming Webinar: Coordinated Entry and Systems Change
Wednesday, September 9, 2 to 3 p.m. EDT
On Wednesday, September 9, at 2 p.m. EDT, the Alliance will host a webinar for communities that are just getting started with coordinated entry or working to improve their existing coordinated entry systems. Speakers in this webinar will provide an overview of coordinated entry, as well as the critical components: access, diversion, assessment and prioritization, and referral.
homelessness in the media
from the blog
Ending Homelessness Today
the official blog of the national alliance to end homelessness
Where Does Funding for Homeless Programs Stand in the Federal Budget?
by Steve Berg
Now that we’re approaching the end of the Federal Fiscal Year (it ends on September 30), you may be wondering where spending levels for homeless programs stand. Under normal circumstances, the full Senate and House of Representatives would have passed spending bills by now and they would be working to reconcile them. Circumstance have changed.
Do we have cause for hope or alarm? Well, yes and yes. This phase of the appropriations process has in recent years become so contentious and fraught that it has resulted in government shutdowns and a budgetary compromise (sequestration) that everyone agrees was a bad idea to begin with. So it should come as no surprise that the appropriations process for FY 2016 is, for the time being, stalled.
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Actor Richard Gere Discusses Homelessness, New Film
by Emanuel Cavallaro
You may know Richard Gere as the actor who appeared in "Pretty Woman," maybe even as the close personal friend of the Dalai Lama, but did you know he’s also a longtime advocate for human rights?
He’s taking that spirit of advocacy to the big screen in his new film “Time Out of Mind.” The film, which will be released in September, documents the struggles of a homeless man (played by Gere) living on the streets of New York City. Last month Gere stopped by our 2015 National Conference on Ending Homelessness to discuss his experience making it.
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Here's a Way You Can Help End Homelessness this Month
by Julie Klein
This July, more than 275 advocates swarmed Capitol Hill during the Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day event to tell Congress about the excellent work federally funded homeless assistance programs are doing in their communities and how Congress can better support them.
Congress is now on recess, so the place for advocates to find members is no longer the Hill; it’s their home states and districts. If you participated in Capitol Hill Day, it’s time to extend the conversation with your member of Congress and show them your program. If you missed out, it’s time to build a relationship.
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