The report, a joint effort of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (“the Law Center”), documents the rise of homeless encampments and “tent cities” across the United States and the legal and policy responses to that growth.
“Homeless people have been resorting to tents for many years in communities where inadequate housing options exist,” said Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the Law Center, “But with an economic recovery that hasn’t made it to the poorest Americans, we’re seeing encampments become permanent parts of our nation’s landscape. It’s a shocking development in a country that clearly has the resources to do better.”
“The fact that so many people across the United States have resorted to living in tents highlights the failure to serve members of our society who have fallen on hard times,” said Sirine Shebaya, a Lowenstein Clinic member and 2012 graduate of Yale Law School. “Tent cities also demonstrate that every human being has a basic need for housing as well as to be a member of a community. Local governments should not disrupt residents’ lives and force them even further into the shadows, but instead should find sustainable solutions that respect their dignity and include them as partners in the decision-making process.”
“While individuals may ‘choose’ to live in an encampment, it is our collective choices as a society that force this choice due to failure to create adequate affordable housing solutions or even the basic safety net of adequate shelters,” said Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights & Children’s Rights Programs at the Law Center, “Tent cities represent our country’s failure to guarantee the human right to housing, and should never be considered permanent solutions; but where they exist, residents must be treated with respect and only evicted by making adequate alternatives available.”