She Was Arrested For Not Having A Home

Tent City in Eugene, Oregon
Zain Murdock
August 9, 2021

40% of the unhoused population in the U.S. are Black. 26-year-old Drew, after losing her job during the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of them. And she quickly learned that being unhoused in this country is basically a crime. 

Here’s how.

Despite the U.S.’s ridiculously low minimum wage and skyrocketing rent, this country makes unhoused people’s lives even worse. You can get arrested for sleeping in your car, lying on the sidewalk, or storing your belongings in public. 

And during this pandemic, these laws are even more heinous.

Researchers estimate that evictions were at the root of 400,000 COVID-19 cases and 11,000 deaths in 2020. And, for those like Drew, who were luckily able to find a job after months of unemployment, having an eviction record makes it extremely difficult to find housing even if you can afford rent. 

But these efforts to criminalize unhoused people also criminalizes things all of us do on a daily basis.

Things like street spikes, purposely uncomfortable benches, and a lack of public bathrooms make life uncomfortable for us all, especially people with disabilities, and nearly impossible for unhoused folks. 

So this is something we, and this country, need to understand.

Unhoused people aren't "broken windows" we need to clean up off the streets. Unhoused people are members of our communities deserving of care – not criminalization!

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