- Various anti-homeless laws are being passed in the US while social service funding is being drastically reduced.
- In Missouri, a new law makes it a crime to sleep on state property, resulting in a $750 fine or imprisonment for those who sleep in public parks or under city highways.
- Other cities and towns in the US have also passed measures targeting the unhoused through criminal consequences or forced hospitalization.
Homelessness advocates are expressing welfare concerns as anti-homeless laws are being passed across the US while funding for social services is being drastically reduced.
In Missouri, a new state law that took effect on January 1st makes it a crime to sleep on state property, with homeless individuals facing fines of up to $750 or 15 days in prison for multiple offenses.
State funding for homeless services in Missouri has also dramatically decreased, leading to further concerns among advocates for the unhoused.
According to The Guardian, other cities and municipalities in the US have also passed measures targeting homeless individuals, including criminal consequences and forced hospitalization.
These laws and funding cuts have faced backlash and protests, with advocates calling for policy change to provide housing rather than just displacing homeless individuals.
According to Sarah Owsley, advocacy director for the non-profit Empower Missouri, the new law being implemented is being used by law enforcement as an excuse to displace marginalized communities.
Days before the law went into effect, Owsley said to St Louis Public Radio: “We are absolutely hearing that law enforcement is using this new law that’s coming as a reason to displace people, already.”
Tyler Renner, a spokesperson for People Assisting the Homeless, said in a statement: “Enforcement of anti-camping ordinances … only displaces people and makes it harder for trained outreach staff to establish trust again.”