Housing Ends Homelessness- City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

By: Chelsea Ross, Executive Director Partnership for Strong Communities

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Grants Pass v Johnson, allowing local governments to punish people for sleeping outside, even in the case when no adequate shelter or housing is available. We are deeply disappointed by this inhumane ruling. It ignores decades of research that proves criminalization only serves to exacerbate homelessness and moves us further away from our values and real solutions. 

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country experience homelessness each year, thousands of individuals and families here in Connecticut. We know that Black, Latino/a/x and Indigenous people disproportionately experience homelessness. This ruling will result in the greatest harm to low-income people of color, perpetuating the racial inequities our country has accepted since our founding. 

Housing ends homelessness. Penalizing people with fines, arrests, and incarceration does nothing to address the root causes of housing instability and homelessness—the extreme lack of affordable housing available in Connecticut and nationwide. More information on the impacts of the criminalization of homelessness here.  

The Partnership joins many local, state, and national partners in condemning this ruling and committing to work toward policies that protect our unhoused neighbors and bend toward justice.  

What do we do now? We work to accelerate the development of affordable housing, preserve and support existing affordable housing, and expand rental assistance. We must invest in housing stability, including eviction prevention, and supportive services. For those that experience homelessness, we must adequately fund emergency shelter. Long-term, data-driven solutions and strategies that center humanity and care are the only way forward. 

Here is a short list with additional information and resources: 

National Homelessness Law Center Grants Pass v Johnson  

NLHC Webinar: Grants Pass Decision and Where We Go From Here – Mass Organizing Call 

NLIHC Statement 

Funders Together statement and resources 

CSH Talking Points and policy recommendations 

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