Banning Homeless Camps Just Disperses The Issue

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Huffington Post (December 24, 2014) ¬†Across the United States, local governments are moving to prevent outdoor camping by the homeless, according to advocates for the nation’s nearly 600,000 homeless, estimated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development …

Over a third of U.S. cities impose citywide bans on public camping, a 60 percent increase in such ordinances since 2011, according to a 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.
More than half the cities surveyed, 57 percent, prohibit camping in certain public places. Such bans have climbed by 16 percent over the past three years, the study found …
Dr. Robert Okin, a psychiatrist and homelessness expert, said the camps are a symptom of the lack of affordable housing and other services. Disbanding them doesn’t solve the problem, it just disperses it, he said.
“It may be a solution to an eyesore, but it’s not a solution to homelessness,” he said.

Others say the bans or barriers are part of an effort to criminalize behaviors associated with the poor, such as panhandling.

“We basically think what’s driving this is that visible poverty is bad for business and bad for tourism and detracts from efforts for cities to revitalize their urban cores,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.