Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

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chewybrian
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Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by chewybrian »

It seems that there are laws that make it all but impossible to be homeless without being a criminal. For example, you can't urinate in public, but public restrooms are for *customers only*. You can't loiter but there is nowhere to relax, other than maybe the library when it is open. You can't sleep in a public park or a subway station. You can't sleep anywhere you don't own or rent without breaking the rules, it would seem. You can't hunt or light a fire without permits or permission, meaning you pay first.

So, a bear can fish in a stream, poop in the woods, or sleep wherever he chooses, and we will (mostly) leave him to his own choices. But, a man can not do the same. We expect people to have resources that they don't always have, yet we seldom provide them.

So, could you practically live without owning or renting property? Is there anything wrong or criminal in not owning property? Should people have a basic right to live in public spaces, providing they respect those spaces?

I realize that there are all sorts of criminal activities correlated with homelessness that are not a direct result of oppressive laws, or the mere fact of not having a home. But, that is not the issue. I am only asking if the simple act of living without a home is a crime or should be.

On a side note, I strongly recommend this work by Orwell, documenting the plight of the homeless in the early 1900's...

http://www.george-orwell.org/Down_and_O ... index.html
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Sculptor1
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Sculptor1 »

chewybrian wrote: April 12th, 2021, 2:05 pm It seems that there are laws that make it all but impossible to be homeless without being a criminal. For example, you can't urinate in public, but public restrooms are for *customers only*. You can't loiter but there is nowhere to relax, other than maybe the library when it is open. You can't sleep in a public park or a subway station. You can't sleep anywhere you don't own or rent without breaking the rules, it would seem. You can't hunt or light a fire without permits or permission, meaning you pay first.

So, a bear can fish in a stream, poop in the woods, or sleep wherever he chooses, and we will (mostly) leave him to his own choices. But, a man can not do the same. We expect people to have resources that they don't always have, yet we seldom provide them.

So, could you practically live without owning or renting property? Is there anything wrong or criminal in not owning property? Should people have a basic right to live in public spaces, providing they respect those spaces?

I realize that there are all sorts of criminal activities correlated with homelessness that are not a direct result of oppressive laws, or the mere fact of not having a home. But, that is not the issue. I am only asking if the simple act of living without a home is a crime or should be.

On a side note, I strongly recommend this work by Orwell, documenting the plight of the homeless in the early 1900's...

http://www.george-orwell.org/Down_and_O ... index.html
In the UK we have Public Space Protection Orders. These PSPOs give the police the right to arrest, and or fine anyone with bedding or other trappings of beggers or itinerants from public spaces.
Neither seen nor heard. Move them out of sight.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Alias »

Of course, as soon as they're in prison, they're no longer homeless, and therefore no longer criminals, and therefore, in custody illegally. You have to let them go before they can be criminal again.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by chewybrian »

Sculptor1 wrote: April 12th, 2021, 4:48 pm In the UK we have Public Space Protection Orders. These PSPOs give the police the right to arrest, and or fine anyone with bedding or other trappings of beggers or itinerants from public spaces.
Neither seen nor heard. Move them out of sight.
Do the homeless have options for shelters, or are they just supposed to disappear into the woods? It seems like those restrictions, if they are going to be just, should go hand in hand with offering an alternate place for them to sleep. Of course, many homeless people are (sometimes rightly) afraid to stay in the shelter. Or, they may be reluctant to check into a shelter because of drug or mental health problems.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Alias »

In theory, there are available shelters and nobody is forced to live on the street. In theory, the police keep even the meanest street urchin safe, even if the evil little nipper is a nogoodnik.
Cops who want to harass people operate on the principle that those theories are facts.

In reality, their mandate is simply to remove the unsightly detritus of capitalism from where they might offend the beneficiaries of capitalism. Usually, they settle for a little intimidation and move the homeless people along to a less prominent street, where they'll be seen only by the poor people to whom they serve as a constant reminder of how close they themselves are to destitution.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Sculptor1 »

chewybrian wrote: April 12th, 2021, 7:42 pm
Sculptor1 wrote: April 12th, 2021, 4:48 pm In the UK we have Public Space Protection Orders. These PSPOs give the police the right to arrest, and or fine anyone with bedding or other trappings of beggers or itinerants from public spaces.
Neither seen nor heard. Move them out of sight.
Do the homeless have options for shelters, or are they just supposed to disappear into the woods? It seems like those restrictions, if they are going to be just, should go hand in hand with offering an alternate place for them to sleep. Of course, many homeless people are (sometimes rightly) afraid to stay in the shelter. Or, they may be reluctant to check into a shelter because of drug or mental health problems.
The provision of shelter varies from county to county, town to town.
We've had a Tory government since 2010 with all the excuses they need to do bugger all except talk and talk about them doing their best.
1 person in 200 is homeless according to government figures.
The UK has become a country of selfish arseholes since Thatcher, and the time Blair was in control did little to reverse that trend.
It's a shameful place to live; corrupt and self serving.
For example many of those "homeless" are in temporary accomodation such as Bed & Breakfast, supplied by private concerns who overcharge because they can. This can mean a mother and 2 children in one bedroom.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by arjand »

A podcast on Partially Examined Life about American philosopher Henry David Thoreau his book Walden (1894) may be of interest.

What is the appropriate life for a truly thoughtful person? Thoreau warns against getting ensnared by social ******** like jobs and charity, and instead living simply, in direct contact with nature, relying as much as possible only on your own effort. His time in the woods on Walden pond was meant to be an experiment to see what life lived this way really has to offer.

https://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2014/ ... 3-thoreau/

Thoreau had stopped paying taxes because he believed that it supported the Mexican-American war and the expansion of slavery. He later started an experiment to disconnect from the 'system' which is documented in his book Walden.

Thoreau is author of the essay Civil Disobedience in which he argued that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Sculptor1 wrote: April 13th, 2021, 3:55 am
chewybrian wrote: April 12th, 2021, 7:42 pm
Sculptor1 wrote: April 12th, 2021, 4:48 pm In the UK we have Public Space Protection Orders. These PSPOs give the police the right to arrest, and or fine anyone with bedding or other trappings of beggers or itinerants from public spaces.
Neither seen nor heard. Move them out of sight.
Do the homeless have options for shelters, or are they just supposed to disappear into the woods? It seems like those restrictions, if they are going to be just, should go hand in hand with offering an alternate place for them to sleep. Of course, many homeless people are (sometimes rightly) afraid to stay in the shelter. Or, they may be reluctant to check into a shelter because of drug or mental health problems.
The provision of shelter varies from county to county, town to town.
We've had a Tory government since 2010 with all the excuses they need to do bugger all except talk and talk about them doing their best.
1 person in 200 is homeless according to government figures.
The UK has become a country of selfish arseholes since Thatcher, and the time Blair was in control did little to reverse that trend.
It's a shameful place to live; corrupt and self serving.
For example many of those "homeless" are in temporary accomodation such as Bed & Breakfast, supplied by private concerns who overcharge because they can. This can mean a mother and 2 children in one bedroom.

It's even worse than you say, it seems. Access to 'common' land has been gradually restricted in the UK for many centuries, starting (according to HM government) in or around the 12th century. Since then, our access to 'common' land has been gradually restricted by wealthy landowners anxious to increase their wealth at the expense of the poor. Plus sa change...
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Papus79 »

It's the squeeze of culture having taken nearly all of the land and there really being no place for people who might invoke the complaint that they were never asked whether or not they wanted to be born. In that sense there are a lot of freedoms that people really don't have and they're not the kinds of freedoms that have anything to do with swinging fists and where faces begin.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by LuckyR »

chewybrian wrote: April 12th, 2021, 2:05 pm It seems that there are laws that make it all but impossible to be homeless without being a criminal. For example, you can't urinate in public, but public restrooms are for *customers only*. You can't loiter but there is nowhere to relax, other than maybe the library when it is open. You can't sleep in a public park or a subway station. You can't sleep anywhere you don't own or rent without breaking the rules, it would seem. You can't hunt or light a fire without permits or permission, meaning you pay first.

So, a bear can fish in a stream, poop in the woods, or sleep wherever he chooses, and we will (mostly) leave him to his own choices. But, a man can not do the same. We expect people to have resources that they don't always have, yet we seldom provide them.

So, could you practically live without owning or renting property? Is there anything wrong or criminal in not owning property? Should people have a basic right to live in public spaces, providing they respect those spaces?

I realize that there are all sorts of criminal activities correlated with homelessness that are not a direct result of oppressive laws, or the mere fact of not having a home. But, that is not the issue. I am only asking if the simple act of living without a home is a crime or should be.

On a side note, I strongly recommend this work by Orwell, documenting the plight of the homeless in the early 1900's...

http://www.george-orwell.org/Down_and_O ... index.html
Homelessness is a complex topic with numerous facets. No doubt the closing of public mental health facilities and the death of the middle class have increased the numbers of the homeless.

Separately, it is a myth that homeless camps in public spaces does no harm to whatever surrounds the encampment.

As an aside, restrooms for customers are private restrooms (not public).

I completely support expanding public restrooms and showers. Also shelter capacity to eliminate the harm of encampments I referenced above. Incarceration is a particularly expensive and wasteful method of housing which I disagree with.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by chewybrian »

LuckyR wrote: April 14th, 2021, 1:24 am Homelessness is a complex topic with numerous facets. No doubt the closing of public mental health facilities and the death of the middle class have increased the numbers of the homeless.
Agreed on all counts.
LuckyR wrote: April 14th, 2021, 1:24 am Separately, it is a myth that homeless camps in public spaces does no harm to whatever surrounds the encampment.
I haven't really heard this myth and did not intend to promote it. But, I don't think it's fair to consider such damage in a vacuum. What would be relevant is whether or not this activity causes materially more damage than living in homes. The damage caused by home owners is not immediately evident, but it spreads all across the globe, through the supply chain of everything the city dweller buys or uses, in addition to whatever direct damage they might be doing.

If, however, you mean to reference illegal activity that is correlated with homelessness, from littering to murder, then I already said this is a separate issue. Even if 90% of homeless commit such acts, that does not justify making there mere fact of not having a home a crime in itself. I am confident that most of us who don't consider ourselves criminals could find some hobby or activity of our own that also correlates with higher than normal criminal activity. But, that doesn't mean that we have to throw out the baby with the bath water and make the benign activity illegal.
LuckyR wrote: April 14th, 2021, 1:24 am As an aside, restrooms for customers are private restrooms (not public).
I did a very poor job of making my point there. I meant to express that there are few if any truly public restrooms. The working assumption in our society seems to be that we will leave our homes to conduct business, and then return home. There are, therefore, ample restrooms available to the people who vote, the people that we think matter. What good is a rest area on the highway or a bathroom at Macy's to a homeless man without a car?
LuckyR wrote: April 14th, 2021, 1:24 am I completely support expanding public restrooms and showers. Also shelter capacity to eliminate the harm of encampments I referenced above.
I think this is practical and affordable and would mesh perfectly with *real* public transportation options. But, we aren't really working to take care of these people and improve their lives.
LuckyR wrote: April 14th, 2021, 1:24 am Incarceration is a particularly expensive and wasteful method of housing which I disagree with.
Incarceration seems like a wasteful and unproductive way to solve almost any problem, with the exception of violent crimes. It's really sad to think that people end up in jail because there weren't affordable housing options or good jobs available to them, or because we don't provide enough shelters and such. I think jail might look like an appealing choice in contrast to living on the streets in many cases.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by chewybrian »

arjand wrote: April 13th, 2021, 6:47 am A podcast on Partially Examined Life about American philosopher Henry David Thoreau his book Walden (1894) may be of interest.

What is the appropriate life for a truly thoughtful person? Thoreau warns against getting ensnared by social ******** like jobs and charity, and instead living simply, in direct contact with nature, relying as much as possible only on your own effort. His time in the woods on Walden pond was meant to be an experiment to see what life lived this way really has to offer.

https://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2014/ ... 3-thoreau/

Thoreau had stopped paying taxes because he believed that it supported the Mexican-American war and the expansion of slavery. He later started an experiment to disconnect from the 'system' which is documented in his book Walden.

Thoreau is author of the essay Civil Disobedience in which he argued that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.
The podcast was interesting and worth the time. The point seems to be about finding a balance more than throwing away all the benefits of technology. He seems to be saying that we get caught up in having things and lose sight of the value of our free time and happiness. We sometimes work harder to support luxury than we would to live simply. We don't have to discard technology, but we should be careful that we don't let it rule us.

I'm not sure I was sufficiently motivated to dig in to 500 pages, though. Have you read Walden? Has anyone? Was it worthwhile?
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by QuestionAll+Nothing »

I just created my account so bare with me, first my assumption is this concept is to create law and state law is already in place subsequently to stop a person or create them to become a criminal by being homeless.The question unfortunately is irrelevant do to a statement of how long do you have to be homeless first off to become a crime. Now laws are in place always to creat order period. Laws are no create to stop you from being a human just the actions the or permitted or not permitted in the domain. Now if being homeless was a actual crime how would you criminalize the if you house them in a private,state, or federal prison. Then they no longer are homeless. So it’s a irrelevant concept or rhetorical question.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by chewybrian »

QuestionAll+Nothing wrote: April 14th, 2021, 5:31 pm I just created my account so bare with me, first my assumption is this concept is to create law and state law is already in place subsequently to stop a person or create them to become a criminal by being homeless.The question unfortunately is irrelevant do to a statement of how long do you have to be homeless first off to become a crime. Now laws are in place always to creat order period. Laws are no create to stop you from being a human just the actions the or permitted or not permitted in the domain. Now if being homeless was a actual crime how would you criminalize the if you house them in a private,state, or federal prison. Then they no longer are homeless. So it’s a irrelevant concept or rhetorical question.
There have been laws in the past and still are some today that make homelessness a crime on the spot. The crime of vagrancy often applies if you can not show visible means of support. The cop simply asks you where you live, where you work and such. If you are in their jurisdiction without a home, a job, or money for a motel, or someone who is supporting you, them you are tagged as a vagrant. Often in the past, and still occasionally today, these poor folks end up on the chain gang, working for the 'crime' of not having a job, even if they were looking for work!

But, as you say and as I said, homelessness is often punished by default even if it is not a crime. For example, people are protected from most search and seizure in their homes, cars and places of work. But, some people on the street are subject to "stop and frisk" (not sure how that is legal within our constitution, but it is happening...). So, the drug addict who has a job and a home is able to carry on in most cases, while the addict who lives on the street is subject to being found out without any cause besides being on the street. He gets a charge of possession or whatever, but only because he was on the street to begin with.
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Terrapin Station »

Shouldn't be a crime to be homeless, but it should be a "crime" for someone to be homeless when they don't want to be. In other words, no one should be homeless if they'd like to have a home. As a society, we should guarantee that anyone who wants a home has one. It should be a basic human right, along with having food, clothing, absolutely any health care you need, education as far as you'd like to take it, transportation, at least basic entertainment options, etc.
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