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New Reports Examine Local Laws and Policies Related to Homelessness in Western States
SEATTLE, May 07, 2018 -- City officials, elected leaders and community advocates can now access new research and analysis about cutting edge interventions to address homelessness thanks to the groundbreaking research of Seattle University School of Law students. They have just published reports and key findings about a range of homelessness issues and interventions as part of the school’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP).
The students produced six new reports that critique increasingly popular laws, such as begging restrictions; these reports also offer practical guidance on possible innovative solutions, including authorized encampments and safe parking programs for residents living in vehicles. Laws and policies in Washington, California, Oregon and Colorado were examined.
"Over the last four years, we’ve released 10 reports challenging laws that punish poverty," said Professor Sara Rankin, HRAP's faculty director. “These six new reports tackle issues and potential solutions that have never been analyzed so comprehensively before. They can make crucial contributions to advancing the fight to stop homelessness."
Over nine months, law students participating in HRAP conducted extensive research and analysis, interviewed a wide range of experts (including people experiencing homelessness), and subjected their reports to extensive review by professionals who work directly with homeless populations, experts, researchers and others with both practical and academic expertise.
“Unfair and unlawful discrimination against people experiencing homelessness is so common and pervasive, it’s invisible to many of us,” said second-year law student Jocelyn Tillisch, who co-authored a brief on begging laws. “Because these laws can make homelessness worse, we must confront their impact.”
Evanie Parr, another second-year law student and author of a brief on authorized encampments agrees: “There are too many people experiencing homelessness in our community who cannot wait for a perfect solution—they need shelter, stability, and security, and they need it now.”
“Cities often fight homelessness with sweeps or tickets,” said Ray Ivey, a second-year law student who co-authored a report on safe parking programs. “A more effective approach starts with research and analysis.”
“We often hear that homelessness is a crisis, but we need a stronger, more coordinated response,” observed Rankin. “These reports push us in that direction.”
The reports identify common problems with existing laws and policies and offer effective, legally sound alternatives. All reports can be accessed online (embargoed until May 7, 2018).
The final report offers the first statewide analysis of laws that restrict begging:
Four of the reports are geared to the network of city officials, non-profit organizations and others working to alleviate homelessness:
The final report is a practical guide for homeless individuals and others who have been arrested:
The Homeless Rights Advocacy Project at Seattle University School of Law engages students in effective legal and policy research and analysis to advance the rights of homeless adults, youth, and children.
Sara K. Rankin
Director, Homeless Rights Advocacy Project
Professor of Lawyering Skills
Seattle University School of Law
Director of Communications
Seattle University School of Law