By Eleanor Goldberg
published by HuffPost BUSINESS
Homelessness is on the rise in the U.S., partly a consequence of a lack of affordable housing. An increasing number of laws makes it illegal for homeless people to partake in basic functions.
An increasing number of new laws across the United States make it a crime to be homeless. But these laws don’t actually manage to get people off the streets ― they just perpetuate the cycle of homelessness, experts say.
Homelessness has reached such crisis levels that a United Nations expert sent to investigate poverty and inequality in the U.S. included the criminalization of homelessness in an extensive report released last Friday. After spending two weeks meeting with communities facing some of the most dire circumstances, Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, concluded that mistreatment of people experiencing homelessness is one of the key contributors to the stark levels of inequality.
“The way to end homelessness is hardly to arrest people, keep them in prison for a time and then kick them out on the street again,” Alston told HuffPost in a phone interview Friday. “That’s a costly, vicious cycle. What we’re doing is making it worse.”