Grand Jury Report Finds Local Approach of Criminalizing the Homeless is Counterproductive

Grand Jury Report Finds Local Approach of Criminalizing the Homeless is Counterproductive

by Ryan Burns in Lost Coast Outpost, 7-11-2019

“The latest report from the Humboldt County Civic Grand Jury takes a critical look at local efforts to address our ongoing homelessness crisis, with extra focus paid to the law-enforcement-heavy approach in the county seat, which has the largest population of un-housed residents.

“‘Eureka, in particular, has taken a kind of carrot and stick approach but with an emphasis on the stick,’ the report says. The authors conclude that “the use of law enforcement as a primary tool in dealing with homelessness is counterproductive.’

“The civil grand jury, an independent judicial body comprised of 19 local residents, conducted interviews, studied local ordinances, reviewed academic research, analyzed data and examined how other cities and counties have dealt with homelessness before reaching some conclusions and offering a list of recommendations.

“Ultimately, they suggest focusing on housing, not handcuffs.

“’Our investigation uncovered ample evidence that criminalizing the human activities of the unhoused is far more costly than providing transitional and permanent housing, and support services,’ the report states. ‘Most importantly, creating more debt through fines, and criminal records through arrests erects steeper barriers for the homeless in finding work and qualifying for housing in an ever-tightening rental market.’”

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