One of my pet peeves hostile architecture. If you live in the city, you probably see it all the time without thinking about it. Have you ever noticed benches that are comfortable enough to sit on but have a weird shape? Maybe they have a little rise in the middle that would be an armrest if it weren’t for the fact that they’re too low to actually let you rest your arm on them. This is so that the homeless do not sleep on them. Once it hit me, I began to see hostility everywhere. Train stations that once had benches magically lose them overnight.
And it’s not just in New York – you see it in Missouri, too. And this enmity is not only architectural. This is written in the law.
First, the new law makes it an offense for homeless people to sleep on public property. This can have far-reaching implications in urban areas, where homeless people often congregate in right-of-way, such as under overpasses. And in rural areas, the homeless often camp out in state parks.
Second, the new law penalizes cities that fail to comply, allowing the attorney general to file civil lawsuits against cities that fail to comply.
Finally, the law reverses the “housing first” model adopted by nearly all agencies that address homelessness in Missouri. Roeder and DeGroot want to take money that helps people find shelter and redirect it to areas like mental health services.
Before we even get to the legality of this answer, it’s just brutal. Who looks at a person who has nowhere to sleep on a bench and thinks, “Yeah, they need a criminal record on top of that.” He is sleeping. No destruction of property. Not theft. The night is going on. I didn’t think I’d have to say this today, but if you find a homeless person who escaped the rain by going under a bridge and happens to be sleeping, giving them an offense that could cost them money or jail time is probably not the best way to handle the situation . Fortunately, there are people who are doing everything they can to help people who are homeless.
“I was furious,” Miles says of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson. “You are punishing someone simply for status. By criminalizing people for being homeless, you’re basically saying you don’t have a right to exist.”
Miles, who runs a nonprofit called Street Level Cape Girardeau, is one of the plaintiffs in the second of two lawsuits filed last month to overturn the new law. The first was filed by attorneys in Springfield and the second by a St. Louis nonprofit Legal Services for Eastern Missouri and Public Citizen Litigation Groupwhich is based in Washington, DC
If you want to support their efforts or follow the progress of the trial, take a look Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and Public Citizen Litigation Group.
Messenger: Advocates sue over Missouri law that will make homelessness worse [STL Today]
In June 2021, Chris Williams became Above the Law’s Social Media Manager and Associate Editor. Before joining the staff, he worked as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He lasted Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University’s law school in St. Louis. He’s a former boat builder who can’t swim published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love of cycling, which occasionally annoys his peers. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via tweet at @WritesForRent.