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Prepare with us! April 22-26, 2024 is National Week of Action: Oppose the Criminalization of Homelessness

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Director of Housing Policy

The North Carolina Housing Coalition is proud to join thousands of other organizations across the country for the Nationwide Week of Action: Oppose the Criminalization of Homelessness that starts on Monday April 22, 2024. This National Week of Action is being spearheaded by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC), National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), and National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH). The objective? To join together in opposition to the counterproductive efforts to punish and arrest people experiencing homelessness when we know that the only real solution to the homelessness crisis is safe, stable, affordable housing.

On April 22, the first day of this week of action, the U.S Supreme Court will hear City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson. This case is the most significant court case about the rights of people experiencing homelessness in decades, and the court will have to decide essentially whether communities can punish and arrest the unhoused for simply being unhoused, even if there are no other safe or adequate housing or shelter options available. 

Throughout the week, we invite you to participate as individual advocates as well as organizations. Here are some tips and resources to prepare you for next week:

Resource 1: Oppose the Criminalization of Homelessness and Advance Long-Term Solutions: GRANTS PASS V. JOHNSON  Advocacy Toolkit
(Created by: NLIHC, NHLC, NCH, and NAEH) 

In this toolkit you will find a comprehensive set of tools for your advocacy efforts next week. It includes critical background on the City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson case; examples of actions that can be taken such as meeting with your local, state, or federal elected officials to discuss real solutions to address homelessness; organizing a press conference; publishing an op-ed; and more. Also included are advocacy action considerations, a list of best-practices and long-term solutions, sample messaging for social media, talking points, and data regarding homelessness and the growing need for affordable housing.

Resource 2: The Johnson V. Grants Pass WebsiteCreated by the National Homelessness Law Center

This website created by the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC) provides an in-depth overview of the significance and details of the Grants Pass v. Johnson case. The website is the base for their campaign, which aims to spread awareness among both the public and policy makers about this case and the consequences on the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

The NHLC website also has various resources on criminalization,  such as the first national study on state laws criminalizing homelessness, a one page fact sheet on the criminalization of homelessness, and much more to help us grapple with this issue and understand what we can do versus what is being done.

Resource 3: Blogs, County Profile, Data, and more

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