August 18th was a disturbing and disheartening day. Some of our most vulnerable and marginalized community members had their shelters destroyed and discarded as dozens of their allies were arrested, detained, and charged for standing in solidarity and standing up for what is right. As an agency providing housing and support to those involved in the justice system—we are troubled by a response to homelessness that employed punitive strategies which were harmful and traumatizing.
These events were a very visible manifestation of a housing crisis that has reached a critical point.
Police services, courts, and jails are not the appropriate responses to poverty, homelessness, and other failures of our social safety system, but shifts in public policy have ultimately restricted the rights of people without shelter, resulting in the criminalization of homelessness.
By bringing unsheltered people into frequent and unnecessary contact with law enforcement officials, criminalization invites avoidable dangers into their lives. Enforcing the criminalization of homelessness also unfairly drains taxpayer resources.
These resources should instead be directed at compassionate and responsible solutions including safe and affordable housing, a comprehensive housing strategy, reasonable targets, allocating sufficient funds, improving rental housing options and implementing measures to address systemic discrimination and policies that uphold the housing crisis.
We are committed to providing safe housing options for women and gender diverse individuals and will continue to encourage collaboration to achieve the solutions that our unhoused and criminalized community members need.
A list of legal resources is available to anyone impacted by the events on August 18th and is available on our Facebook page.