United Way of King County Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Regarding People Experiencing Homelessness

By United Way of King County, on June 28, 2024 | In News

This blog post was written by Jake Janesch, United Way of King County senior manager for rental assistance and homelessness prevention.

The United States Supreme Court ruling that people experiencing homelessness can be arrested and fined for sleeping in public places moves our nation backward in being able to resolve the homelessness crisis and places even more burdens and debts on the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.

Punishing people for being unhoused is not a solution to end homelessness and does not address the underlying issues of the crisis. People experiencing homelessness already have nowhere to go – through no fault of their own – and this ruling will exacerbate the problem.

At United Way of King County, we believe in investing in and implementing prevention strategies—which are currently few and far between—to ensure people don’t fall into homelessness in the first place. We need our national and local governments to invest at a larger scale to ensure that affordable housing is readily available for renters with the lowest income. Our community deserves stronger renter protections and eviction prevention resources to stabilize households during a crisis so they don’t fall into homelessness.

We believe that this ruling will fail to reduce homelessness, requiring an extreme need for resources and funding to make sure further harm is not placed on the unhoused. This ruling does not lead with real solutions or facts. Data shows that meeting people with individualized immediate access to stable housing, coupled with other wrap around services and case management, will lead to housing stability. Rather than leading with an approach to invest in adequate housing, shelter, and financial resources, this ruling punishes unhoused people for being in a vulnerable situation and not having a home.

Further, Black, Indigenous, and people of color experience homelessness at higher rates due to longstanding historical and structural racism, as well as single mothers with children under 18. This ruling, along with raising housing costs and gaps in income levels, will not solve any issues for these populations, which should be prioritized.

Prevention efforts are more important than ever. Our community deserves to ensure that no one is punished or criminalized for being unhoused. 


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