Supreme Court Rules Homeless Can be Arrested for Sleeping in Public Spaces

June 28, 2024
Supreme Court Rules Homeless Can be Arrested for Sleeping in Public Spaces

For immediate release

Contact: David Card
[email protected]
202-408-9514 ext. 122

National Disability Rights Network Calls the Ruling “Cruel”

Washington, D.C. — In a profoundly disappointing ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that it is constitutional to arrest or fine homeless individuals for using survival items like blankets or pillows in public spaces when no alternative shelter is available.

“Arresting or fining people for trying to survive is expensive, counterproductive, and cruel,” said Jesse Rabinowitz, campaign and communications director at the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC). “This inhumane ruling, which contradicts the values of nearly three-quarters of Americans, will make homelessness worse in Grants Pass and nationwide. Cities are now even more empowered to neglect proven housing-based solutions and to arrest or fine those with no choice but to sleep outdoors. While we are disappointed, we are not surprised that this Supreme Court ruled against the interests of our poorest neighbors.”

“Penalizing individuals, including many with mental health and other disabilities, for merely trying to live is not only cruel but also counterproductive,” said Marlene Sallo, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). “This decision, which stands in stark contrast to the beliefs of the majority of Americans, will exacerbate the homelessness crisis across the country. Cities are now further emboldened to ignore effective housing-based solutions, opting instead to punish those with no alternative but to sleep on the streets. Although disheartened, we are not shocked that this ruling favors punitive measures over compassion and justice for our most vulnerable citizens.”

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the NDRN and NHLC call on the Biden administration and Congress to invest at least $356 billion in the next year with continued funding in future years to ensure that everybody has safe, decent housing that they can afford. Specifically, we call for full funding of:

  • Universal rental assistance for lowest-income households
  • Public housing repair and preservation
  • National Housing Trust Fund
  • Eviction and homelessness prevention
  • Voluntary supportive and emergency services

“Too often a lack of housing in the community leaves people with disabilities stuck in institutions or worse, homeless,” continued Sallo. “Affordable and accessible housing is a critical and necessary component for people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives in the community. The Biden Administration and Congress must invest in affordable and accessible housing to mitigate the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling.”


About the National Disability Rights Network
The National Disability Rights Network works in Washington, DC on behalf of the Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) and Client Assistance Programs (CAPs), the nation’s largest providers of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities.

About the National Homelessness Law Center
The National Homelessness Law Center is committed to protecting the rights of unhoused people across the United States and to advocating for policies that prevent and end homelessness, ensuring that all people have access to safe and adequate housing.