On April 12, the Houston City Council passed an ordinance that bans homeless encampments in public places and places restrictions on panhandling on the city’s medians. Specifically, the ordinance prohibits temporary shelters, tents and cooking devices.
“Over the past five years, Houston has become a national leader in ending homelessness, bringing its veteran homelessness rate to a functional zero, and reducing its overall homeless population by over half,” said Kali Cohn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “It did this through strategic, Housing First approaches that are proven to work — not by criminalizing people living on the streets. Criminalizing homelessness is both cruel and unconstitutional, and creates additional barriers for people seeking stable housing. The City of Houston should return its attention to investing in the types of policy solutions that have made it a leader in solving homelessness.”