Yamiche Alcindor of USA Today writes:
Philadelphia recently banned outdoor feeding of people in city parks. Denver has begun enforcing a ban on eating and sleeping on property without permission. And this month, lawmakers in Ashland, Ore., will consider strengthening the town’s ban on camping and making noise in public.
And the list goes on: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Diego and more than 50 other cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
The ordinances are pitting city officials against advocates for the homeless. City leaders such as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter say they want to improve the lives of homeless people and ensure public safety, while opponents of such laws argue that such regulations criminalize homelessness and make it harder to live on the streets.
It is difficult to have a conversation about homelessness without having a conversation about a number of others issues, some of which are economic, but some of which are even more politically charged, such as the rights of those who suffer from profound mental illness. Are these conversations happening?