Over 150 Current and Former Local Electeds Tell SCOTUS to Support Housing First, Not Criminalization

This week, Local Progress Impact Lab submitted an amicus brief in Grants Pass v. Johnson, a pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court. This case would decide whether or not local governments should have the power to make it a crime for people to sleep outside, even when adequate shelter is not available. At Local Progress, we aspire to a world where housing is for people, not for profit, where everyone has a safe, dignified home that meets their needs. We know that criminalizing homelessness is not the answer.

That is why 156 current and former local elected officials signed on to the brief to tell SCOTUS that what local governments need is more support to provide housing and resources that meet people’s needs, not to throw more people in jail. Read the full brief here.

Contrary to some other local government voices in this case and to the arguments put forth by the city of Grants Pass, local elected officials across the country, from big cities and small towns, have all signed onto this brief calling for housing, not criminalization. Criminalization traumatizes people, traps them in a cycle of incarceration, and consequently makes it even more difficult to access housing. Solving homelessness will take action and investments in deeply affordable housing, permanently supportive housing and other housing first strategies from all levels of government.

Over the last few years, many Local Progress members have led efforts to shift their local government’s approach to unsheltered homelessness, developing interim safe spaces while also advancing long-term solutions. The brief highlights some of these examples including:

  • In New York City, Housing First saw “a 70% to 90% success rate maintaining stable housing for participants over two to three years.”
  • Houston, TX’s “The Way Home” coalition provides permanent housing and services like case management, healthcare, substance use counseling, and income coaching.
  • After three years in Denver, CO’s supportive housing program, participants avoided police interactions and decreased their visits to emergency departments, and 77% of participants stayed in stable housing.

Local elected officials across the country are taking a stand with the unhoused plaintiffs in this case, the National Homelessness Law Center and other community organizations to tell SCOTUS that localities need more support to meet their communities’ needs.

Read the full brief here, follow the conversation online, and turn out to NHLC’s Housing Not Handcuffs rally ahead of oral arguments at the Supreme Court on April 22.