Homeless for Christmas: Homelessness Encampments Increase in U.S., Met with Crackdowns in Cities

Several U.S. cities have cracked down on homeless encampments as homelessness rates across the country have risen in recent years.

according to ABC NewsThe federal homeless count has increased to 580,000 in 2022 due to a lack of affordable housing, the economic impact of the coronavirus on household budgets, and a lack of access to mental health and addiction treatment.

The camps in cities from Los Angeles to New York are taking place amid public pressure from residents’ complaints of dangerous and unsanitary living conditions. But at the same time, this effort has done little to increase the number of tents set up on sidewalks, parks, and highway exit ramps.

by Community partnerships to prevent homelessnessmore than 3,700 people across the country face homelessness on any given night.

“The increasing number of laws criminalizing homelessness at the state and local level is a truly misguided response to this homelessness crisis,” said Scout Katovich, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU has filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of sweeps and property seizures in several cities, including Minneapolis, Miami, Albuquerque, Anchorage, and Boulder, Colorado.

“These laws and enforcement practices actually do nothing to alleviate the crisis and instead keep people in this cycle of poverty,” she said.

Phoenix saw a significant increase in encampments from 1,200 in 2019 to more than 3,000 last year, according to a data request shared with The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Las Vegas has cleared at least 2,500 encampments.

New York state removed 2,300 people from encampments, accepted 119 people into temporary shelter and three people into permanent housing, according to a June report from Comptroller Brad Lander.

Some places of worship are responding to the homelessness crisis by offering people a place to stay.

Hit lloyds reporta Washington, D.C.-based church, Epiphany Church, serves as a hypothermia shelter during the winter.

The “hypothermia season”, which runs from November 1st to March 31st, aims to help homeless people who are at high risk due to extremely cold temperatures.

“Being able to open our doors means one less person dying of hypothermia while sleeping on the street,” said the Rev. Glenna Huber, pastor of Epiphany Church. episcopal news service.

From 2022 to 2023, the number of homeless people in Washington, DC increased by 18%.

Huber said men who stay overnight at the church go across the street to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, store their belongings in a locker, shower, and eat lunch provided by World Central Kitchen. I explained that I had a choice. This nonprofit organization provides meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises and natural disasters.

The men are also invited to the church’s morning hot breakfast program, “Welcome Table,” where they can charge their phones, talk to others, and rest. Huber added that some of the men are parishioners.

Merrill Glidewell, senior warden at Epiphany Church, told Episcopal News Service that the church’s function as a hypothermia shelter is an example of “the Good Shepherd of our spaces.”

“For Epiphany, building relationships with people and caring for people is part of our core mission,” Glidewell said. “This is a very tangible way for us to love and care for our neighbors where we are, using the physical nature of our space to welcome them and support our mission. and relationships with people moving forward.”

Photo credit: ©Pixabay/ofuss

Video provided by: FOX 11 News Los Angeles (via YouTube)

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributor to Christian Headlines and host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast dedicated to sound doctrine and Biblical truth. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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