• Homeless Union of GSO

Safe Place To Stay Report Published - Read it Now!





We are proud to announce that the "Safe Place to Stay: Combating Homelessness, Police Violence and Jim Crow" report is published!We've published it online (as well as in print) on our website alongside The Homeless Union of Greensboro's 10 Point Platform: "Homes, Jobs & Justice Now - Not Death in the Streets"Download the report and Advocacy Toolkit here: https://www.homelessunion.org/a-safe-place-to-stay The toolkit includes a powerpoint presentation, a downloadable pocket report, know-your-rights information sheet, model policies, and more!

‘Safe Place to Stay’ Report Detailing Criminalization of Homelessness, Access to Shelter and Police Harassment Released

“The way [the police] go into town. If there be a lot of Black people standing hanging around, they will lock us up, that is all I got to say, they will lock us up …A lot of what is going on is racial, and it is all in the police department.”

-Survey Participant

November 12th, 2019 – Drs. Sonalini Sapra and Krista Craven of Guilford College, and Dr. Justin Harmon of the University of North Carolina Greensboro, have published a detailed report analyzing homelessness in Greensboro, North Carolina. The report called “A Safe Place to Stay: Combating Homelessness, Police Violence, and Jim Crow in Greensboro” – which can be found here – is based off over 200 in-depth interviews and 3 focus groups conducted between 2018 and 2019, public records requests, and Homeless Management Information System data.

The report focuses on the interactions of people experiencing homelessness with police officers, the criminal justice system, and their experiences accessing resources and basic health services. The report includes a section of policy recommendations which were compiled collaboratively with the Homeless Union of Greensboro.

The full report “A Safe Place to Stay: Combating Homelessness, Police Violence, and Jim Crow in Greensboro” and an advocacy toolkit, including the Homeless Union of Greensboro Ten Point Platform – “Homes, Jobs & Justice Now – Not Death in the Streets” -  informational pamphlets and a downloadable PowerPoint Presentation can be found here: https://www.homelessunion.org/a-safe-place-to-stay

Summary of Key Report Findings:

· People experiencing homelessness in Greensboro lack adequate options for obtaining housing.

o Providing, safe, decent, and affordable housing is the only long-term solution to homelessness. Housing-oriented approaches are also more cost effective than the current approach which relies heavily on emergency shelters and policing.

o More permanent low-income housing options should be made available by the City of Greensboro.

· People experiencing homelessness in Greensboro are often subject to discriminatory and unnecessary police harassment, tickets, and arrests.

o The cumulative effect of quality-of-life policing, extra-judicial harassment of low-income people, court costs and fines, and our cash-bail system means that poverty and homelessness is effectively criminalized in Greensboro.

o Local government should adopt policies that protect the rights of homeless and low-income residents. 

· Police in Greensboro appear to target people experiencing homelessness, African American residents, and other marginalized communities in ways that go beyond the letter of the law.

o This dynamic is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, wherein second-class treatment of minority populations and people experiencing homelessness often extend beyond official policy.

o There are numerous officers who, according to data we retrieved from public records requests, show a high propensity for targeting, ticketing, and arresting homeless residents, particularly those who are African American.

o This phenomenon is confirmed by the sentiments expressed by our survey respondents in this study.

o It is imperative that Greensboro police who are guilty of misconduct or have established a pattern of racial profiling be held accountable for their actions.

· People experiencing homelessness in Greensboro lack access to adequate legal representation in both civil and criminal courts.

o Greensboro is currently in the midst of an eviction crisis (an average of 13 families per day face evictions in Greensboro). The lack of adequate legal representation for people facing evictions puts these families at a great disadvantage in court.

o Improvements should be made in how those who are facing eviction are informed and supported, as well as the creation of a legal representation programs that can prevent families from losing their homes.

· People experiencing homelessness in Greensboro lack adequate access to basic emergency services,

particularly access to shelters.

o The majority of survey respondents (84.2%) report being unable to access an emergency shelter bed on at least one occasion. Furthermore, survey respondents expressed concern about specific barriers to accessing services, the quality of services available, and treatment by shelter staff. 

The Homeless Union of Greensboro Ten Point Platform:

“Homes, Jobs & Justice Now - 

Not Death in the Streets”

1. We have a right to self-determination: We demand a seat at the table and a say in policies that affect our lives. We call on local government to develop a plan to combat homelessness that is accountable to the needs and priorities of people experiencing homelessness by including them in decision-making processes from the start.

2. Everybody’s got a right to live: We demand an immediate end to police harassment, brutality, and the killing of people. In particular, we call for an immediate end to targeting and violence towards black people, other people of color, LGBTQIA people, people living with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and other marginalized people. We demand accountability and citizen oversight for police and public employees who violate the rights of citizens.

3. Housing is a human right: We demand safe, decent, and affordable housing fit for human beings, not underfunded Band-Aid services.

4. We have a right to living wages and adequate compensation: We demand living wage employment and real opportunities to escape poverty and homelessness.

5. We have a right to due process: We demand fair treatment before the court for low-income people. This means adequate legal representation in both criminal and civil courts – including evictions – and an end to the money bail system.

6. Healthcare is a human right: We demand adequate access to healthcare and services such as emergency shelters, hygiene facilities, and places that serve food. We demand that all service providers respect our rights, involve clients in decision-making, and have a fair grievance process for clients/guests.

7. We have a right to be treated with dignity: We demand access to non-police emergency services. Non-police personnel are best equipped to deal with and de-escalate crisis related to mental health, drug-use, and medical emergencies.

8. Everyone has a right to a safe place to stay. Homelessness is not a crime: We demand safe and legal places for people experiencing homelessness to sleep without the fear of police harassment and violence.

9. We have a right to be secure in our persons and free from unreasonable searches and seizures: We demand local government adopt policies to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness.

10. We have a right to equal treatment and opportunity: All people addressing issues related to homelessness ought to commit to anti-racism and anti-oppression work and view it as central to that work. 

Media Coverage:

https://www.greensboro.com/news/local_news/report-more-affordable-housing-not-shelter-beds-will-help-greensboro/article_41ca4c02-1094-510b-9ff8-e518a5068551.html?fbclid=IwAR3FzoHBnKPJvJWKzqjIIGcfOjpZtmJdXJ9WptYpSFuV8gswWL9883QNg3s

www.homelessunion.org

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