Housing, not handcuffs: Criminalization of homelessness, constructive alternatives, protecting the human rights of people experiencing homelessness

Thursday, June 2, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
Broadway III (Hilton Portland)
Imagine a world where it is illegal to sit down. Could you survive if there were no places where you were allowed to fall asleep, to store your belongings, or to stand still? In communities across the nation, these harmless, unavoidable behaviors are treated as criminal activity for persons experiencing homelessness, often forcing them into health-threatening situations to avoid detection and creating arrest records that put further barriers between these individuals and the access to housing and services they need. Criminalization damages the quality of life of the persons experiencing homelessness we serve and the quality of care that health care providers are able to maintain. Criminalization has been condemned by international human rights monitors, and the federal government and a number of communities have demonstrated success in promoting and utilizing constructive alternative approaches. This panel discussion will teach participants about the negative aspects of criminalization, share positive examples of alternatives, provide specific steps that participants can use to identify and address criminalization in their home communities, and provide a way to work together for better quality for all in the exciting new campaign for Housing, Not Handcuffs that is working at the federal, state, and local levels to end criminalization of homelessness and promote the human right to housing.
Eric Tars, JD (Senior Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty)
Jeff Foreman, JD, MGA, MA, MS (Consumer, Care for the Homeless)
Raymond West, N/A (Consumer Advocate, Care for the Homeless)
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