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There’s No Right to Sleep Outdoors

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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NEW YORK - OCT 10:American homeless sleeps in New York city subway on October 10 2009.A 2013 report show that the number of homeless people recorded in NYC topped 50,000 for the first time.

In a Supreme Court showdown Monday over whether the homeless have a “right” to camp in public, almost no one mentioned the actual victims of that crazy idea. Homeless advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, told the court that living on the streets is a “victimless” crime. Victimless?

Everyone who has to step over needles and human poop and navigate around half-conscious humans while walking to work or taking their kids to school is a victim. Every store owner whose entrance is blocked by makeshift cardboard shelters is a victim. Every family that wants to use a park and finds it cluttered with sprawling tents is a victim.

The homeless are more likely to commit violent crimes than people who aren’t homeless. The public has every reason to be wary.

Municipalities all over the U.S. are watching the City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, which challenges a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling barring penalties for sleeping with blankets and other paraphernalia on public property. The 9th Circuit — known for its left-wing rulings — says these penalties amount to “cruel and unusual punishment” because the homeless have no choice.

No choice is another whopper. San Francisco authorities report that 60% of homeless individuals living on the street refuse shelter when it’s offered.

Here in New York City, every homeless person is guaranteed shelter. When Mayor Eric Adams sends outreach teams from the Department of Homeless Services to the tent encampments, only about 5% take the offer for shelter. The other 95% choose living rough.

Justice Clarence Thomas got closest to this practical truth when he asked if the Grants Pass ordinance criminalizes lacking a home, or the deliberate decision to sleep rough instead of going to a shelter.

A big surprise is who is siding with Grants Pass — Democratic pols including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and a long list of big blue cities except — you guessed it — New York City.

Grants Pass lawyers explain that the 9th Circuit has “erected a judicial roadblock” affecting virtually every municipality in the West, preventing them from clearing encampments. The results are “crime, fires, the reemergence of medieval diseases, environmental harm, and record levels of drug overdoses, and deaths on public streets.”

Phoenix city officials, in a friend-of-the-court brief, complain that 9th Circuit judges are acting like “homeless policy czars,” usurping what local governments should decide. Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed that, warning against having “federal courts micromanaging” homeless policy.

That’s what’s been happening. Anti-camping regulations adopted in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Portland, Oregon, were all barred following the 9th Circuit’s precedent. And that precedent has also been cited by courts in the rest of the U.S. as a reason to tolerate homeless encampments.

Grants Pass is so atypical of the larger cities wrestling with homelessness that the outcome of the case is somewhat difficult to predict. It’s a town of 40,000 with a small, church-run shelter.

But Monday’s argument suggests the justices will rule 6-3 or 5-4 that municipalities can ban sleeping on public property. The ruling will affect the entire nation.

Except perhaps New York City, which is moving away from common sense. The City Council adopted a “Homeless Bill of Rights” in 2023, making Gotham the only big city with an explicit right to sleep in public spaces. Mayor Adams did not veto it. There would have been no point. The law was adopted unanimously. What are city lawmakers thinking?

Homeless people deserve compassion, but allowing them to freeze to death or succumb to disease isn’t compassionate. Data show they are shortening their own lifespan by 30 years or more.

Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, sponsored the “Homeless Bill of Rights,” blathering that the city must look at the root causes of homelessness rather than “stoking fear.”

But fear is warranted. And the public deserve clean, safe streets.

Fair warning: Williams is eyeing Adams’ job as mayor.

The court’s expected ruling will allow local authorities across the U.S. to crack down on homeless encampments. But the justices cannot command that they do it. The law-abiding public — the real victims of homelessness — need to elect local leaders who will say “no” to preferring the rights of the homeless over the rights of the rest of us.

New York City voters, it’s up to you.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website.

COPYRIGHT 2024 CREATORS.COM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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Bob Hellam
Bob Hellam
1 month ago

I am a pastor, so I sometimes talk to these people. A surprising number have told me that they prefer camping out in a city park or behind a restaurant. They don’t want the expense of maintaining a home. Some say they want their drinking or their drug-taking to be undisturbed. Some have told me that their condition is only temporary, and that the homeless are not all innocent victims, but many are scary predators; people who say that will probably change their lifestyle as soon as they can. We need to restore vagrancy laws, enforce laws against trespassing and littering, and re-establish insane asylums.

Morbious
Morbious
1 month ago

These people are vagrants, bums and hobos. When we allow the left to change the language, trouble inevitably follows. I recently offered a vagrant near me food. He declined. They want $. A few yrs ago i happened upon a drunken bum along a bike path. As i fixed the brakes on my bike he bragged about making 300$ a day because dupes crave a moment of warm fuzziness so hand them money. Yes, many of these people are mentally ill and its a disgrace that states closed down the institutions that provided care, but most of the rest choose the independence they desire from bosses, taxes, and ‘shoulds’.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

Drug addicts mentally ill the end products of welfare system ,all are lumped into the same category Homeless Not one person once looked for the reason they are homeless This has been going on for decades People sitting on the sidewalks begging What else could possibly come from idleness and drug addiction What was introduced by LBJ should really be called genocide He was a democrat

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

It sure is interesting how quickly the homeless got booted out prior to Joebama’s visit to El Paso and Xi’s visit to San Francisco, only to see the clean streets returned to the vagrants after the communist “VIPs” left.

Phillip Nagle
Phillip Nagle
1 month ago

As far as the left is concerned, as long as you’re not blocking the entrance to an abortion mill, you can sleep anywhere you want.

Denise
Denise
1 month ago

Notice this problem first ramped up under comrade Hussein Obama who obliterated our border first. Now it’s his protege little Joe who no doubt got those same marching orders from Hussein frequently seen “visiting” the White house…can we see a pattern here? Nancy Pelosi before “retiring” (riiiiight) opining; “Everyone should be able to vote…of course, give ’em freebies paid for by we the people and who’re they gonna “vote” for? Don’t forget the massive voting scam a few short years ago. Tyrants won’t tolerate “Votes”.
Hussein Obama presidential excerpt: “I’m going to fundamentally change America.” and the sheep cheered. This is called ramped up and planned obliteration of a Constitutional Republic fellow Americans and nothing less. Until “We the People” wake the he** up and see the hand writing on the wall…oh, sorry, we don’t have a wall anymore…we might as well line up for our chains.
Patrick Henry put it succinctly so long ago, and he knew whereof he spoke: “When a nation forgets it’s God tyrants soon forge it’s chains.” Fellow Americans we must quickly wake up out of our stupor. There is no such thing as an “isolated case”. Don’t forget, Cuba our closest neighbor was once a free, budding and well off nation then Castro came in smoothly beguiling the citizens…who bought it.

Kacy Michael
Kacy Michael
1 month ago

Well it doesn’t surprise me, one of the key reasons why there’s so much homelessness is because of broken spirits in the American people from what this current government is doing to people..
It’s my opinion and belief and in today’s world of broken Dreams of being American citizen of knowing that they can receive a good wage to be able to cover their obligations is no longer available to them which causes them to have a broken spirit and belief in the American system that we’ve paid for through our taxes since it’s establishment..
This current administration in government much rather take care of immigrant crossing the border giving them free food stamps free housing loans at 3% at a 10-year payback while Americans apply for these benefits and their denied..
I don’t see those that are in government caring about homeless people as they really want people to believe.. it just makes it easier for them to have control over their lives which is in the works for all Americans from a middle-class down..
It even says in the Bible there will be two classes rich and poor, so those that are homeless it works for those that are rich, the homeless population is living on borrowed time, eventually they will be disposed of or put some place out of sight..
Even the digital dollar is showing what it’s all about and that is total control over people’s lives, these are the Working class People, so the homeless is of no concern to those that are in power and wealth because they’re already under the thumb of those that want control over their lives..

Pat R
Pat R
1 month ago

As a former volunteer, I was truly surprised when they would refuse to come to the shelter; then I found out why. The reason is because drugs and alcohol are forbidden if staying at shelters. Even in hard winter conditions, there are those who refuse the invitation to “come in out of the cold” and get a hot meal, warm bed, breakfast and bag lunch the next morning. And there were some deaths because of their refusal.

Robin W Boyd
Robin W Boyd
1 month ago

The circumstances that cause people to become homeless are usually enough to cause people to become nearly feral, fearing everything and everyone else. Those who become homeless really don’t have much reason to care if they are committing crimes or not when it comes to what they need to do just to live another day.
We have created the circumstances that have caused many to be homeless. It is up to society to do what is needed to allow citizens to be able to live with some dignity. We can do this by decreasing the amount of government regulations that prevent so many from being able to work without restrictions and live without having so much of our lives controlled by government agencies.

sue
sue
1 month ago

Victimless my foot. Both sides are losers on this.But these people have made a choice and they need to accept what it comes with or without, and sleeping where you want is not a right.

Myrna
Myrna
1 month ago

It appears those who opt for sleeping outdoors do so to make sure they have freedom to use drugs. The Biden administration may be on the way to make all drug use legal. At least the state of Oregon tried this and is making its way back to restricting recreational drug use.

Tplorable
Tplorable
1 month ago

I don’t think people should be out sleeping in the streets. It’s true some do not want help they want that lifestyle. I’m letting it whirl around in my head right now. I’ve been working since I was 11. I’m 60 now and see no light at the end of the tunnel. Every time I get close to the amount needed for retirement, they raise it. That’s not even the problem though. It’s the darn insurance. If I keep on working, I have it. To retire and try to afford it, I can’t. I’m sore and tired of working. Maybe I’ll cross the border and come back as an illegal. Then everything will be taken care of. Sitting around getting high and drunk all day sounds pretty good. I used to do it but got sober and have been working hard. The way things are going with the economy and the world, maybe it’s time to go back. Everything is upside down!

Brenda G
Brenda G
1 month ago

People who pay taxes, city, county, and state – plus federal have a definite right to expect their communities kept safe and clean. Homelessness is a very concerning issue, and I believe no one dismisses the seriousness of the problem. If it is a problem of not being able to afford housing? There are so many options that can assist. The larger problem is mental illness, substance abuse, like alcohol, illegal and legal drug abuse. When an individual is horribly addicted addicted, mentally ill which many instances go hand in hand. This problem isn’t a matter of “Well stop using, or chin up,get a job”, so many supposed solutions. Most will be issues they will deal with for years,if not the rest of their lives.

Bob Chase
Bob Chase
1 month ago

Arguable if anything is up to the voters anywhere!

johnh
johnh
1 month ago

If you have not fell asleep lying in grass outside with the hot sun beating down on you, you cannot take this off your bucket ist.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

Need more mental health and stop sending drug users to prison; send them to in-patient rehab-confinement. Treat the problem not the symptom. Or on the flip side, stop all support programs and let the Laws of Nature cull the Human Herd with natural selection. All we do now is perpetuate the problem.

What a dump this place is
What a dump this place is
1 month ago

The more I read about how America treats its vulnerable the more I believe this shining city on the hill deserves whatever it gets.

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