With just under two million homeless persons on the streets, the plight of the homeless is a serious problem we face in America today. Those who are homeless are faced with the daily struggles of finding food and shelter that many of us take for granted. As if the stress of having to search for food and shelter everyday is not enough, many cities are making homelessness a criminal offense.

 

The criminalization of homelessness leaves homeless with no options (deservedness.com)

For the thousands of homeless in Tampa, Florida not having a place to eat or sleep could mean jail time. Tampa is one of the cities that has made jail the solution to homelessness. The new ordinance has made sleeping in public, or storing personal property in public, a crime. Many were upset with Tampa’s decision to criminalize homelessness, arguing that it only creates greater problems. Keeping someone in jail costs taxpayers money — money that could be spent on projects that help with job training, housing, or food for the homeless. Not only does this legislation funnel money in the wrong direction, but a criminal record does not help anyone in the job hunting process.

 

Tampa is not the only city in America to pass this legislation, however. Cities in South Carolina, North Carolina, and California are passing “acts of living” laws that make asking for change, or even eating in public a crime. The crimes that these homeless are being arrested for are not even acts that put others in harm’s way. Incarcerating homeless people takes time and money away from finding and arresting criminals that commit more serious and dangerous crimes.

 

Jailing the homeless is the seemingly quick and easy solution, but it fails to solve a more complex problem of homelessness in our nation. It only serves to aggravate the problem of overcrowded prisons, and defers from finding a more permanent, thorough solution. The criminalization of homeless people may take them off the streets, but it does not give them a real home.

 

Is arresting homeless people a positive thing? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich