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Activists and people experiencing homelessness gather near tents housing the homeless at an encampment in Echo Lake Park as the city makes plans to evict all the parks encampments in Los Angeles, March 24, 2021.
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SCOTUS Will Decide If Homelessness Can be Punished

April 18, 2024

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On April 22, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Johnson v. Grants Pass, the most significant court case about the rights of people experiencing homelessness in decades. At its core, Grants Pass will decide whether cities are allowed to punish people for things like sleeping outside with a pillow or blanket—even when there are no safe shelter options—posing potentially great risk to the 250,000 Americans who sleep outside on any given night.

This case comes at a time when the affordable housing market is strapped with a deficit of 6.8 million affordable housing units needed nationwide for extremely low-income families. Moreover, according to a recent Harvard study, one in four renters, or 11.2 million households, are “severely burdened by rents that took up over half their incomes.” These millions of renters living paycheck to paycheck are at significant risk of losing their home at the turn of a rainy day, with Americans of color, disabled Americans and queer and trans Americans at even greater risk. With so many folks on a razor thin edge of experiencing housing instability these days, all eyes are on Grants Pass.

Joining us to talk more about the case and the broader systemic issue of housing instability, homelessness, and what it would take to make a meaningful dent in both, is Jennifer Friedenbach, the Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco.

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