There’s a Good Reason New York’s Homeless Often Sleep in the Subway

Ten years ago, William Burnett often spent his nights sleeping on the New York City subway. It was better than his other option: a shelter on Wards Island where he said two rival gangs, the Bloods and the Latin Kings, were “trying to outdo each other over who could terrorize” the shelter’s homeless occupants.

After members of the Bloods repeatedly tried to extort money he didn’t have, Burnett, now 45, decided he “needed to disappear.”

‘No Camping,’ and Other Laws That Sneakily Push the Homeless Away

Early in August, the Department of Justice weighed in on a legal dispute over ordinances in the city of Boise, Idaho, that make it a crime to sleep in public. The plaintiffs, who first filed the lawsuit in 2009, were themselves homeless people convicted of disobeying these laws. In its statement, the DOJ argues that, in instances when shelter accommodations are unavailable, it is unconstitutional to criminalize sleeping in a public space. In the DOJ’s eyes, it’s a violation of the Eighth Amendment, because it’s cruel to punish someone for sleeping in public when no viable alternative exists.

Evictions Throwing More Families Into Homelessness

The national campaign to end chronic homelessness in America’s cities has focused on veterans and the chronically homeless. But there is another class of newly homeless: Evicted tenants, often families with children, who can’t afford a roof over their heads after they lose their lease.

Evictions have reached epidemic proportions and created a new homeless crisis born out of an affordable housing shortage.

More » Previous »