Cities Crack Down On Homeless People Living In Their Cars

Apr 01, 2015 at 3:09 PM ET

More cities are trying to outlaw the practice of homeless people seeking refuge in their cars, and Los Angeles is something of a poster child for the bans. A federal court last year ruled that its previous ban was unconstitutional, but now the city is seeking approval for a new one.

It’s a growing battleground in cities around the country, as people from formerly stable lives lose their jobs and can no longer afford proper shelter. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty surveyed 187 cities last year and found that 43 percent had laws banning sleeping in cars—more than double the number in 2011.

Many of those living in cars, advocates say, come from middle-class backgrounds but fell victim to the recession. Critics of the bans say they’re becoming one of the more popular weapons in the war on homeless people.

The debate is particularly fraught in California, which has the highest rate of unsheltered homeless people in the entire country, with about 85,000 of the state’s 111,000 homeless sleeping on the streets, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. About 5,000 people are living in cars in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The city’s initial ban was in response to complaints from neighbors who said homeless people living in vehicles were leaving garbage in the streets and urinating on their lawns.

 Read More:

‘Lost In America’ Documents The Reality Of Youth Homelessness In America (Huffington Post)
Homelessness Creates Mental Health Issues In Children (Vocativ)
Increased Funding Could Alleviate Homelessness In LA (Annenburg News)