As the cost of housing continues to rise across the United States, homelessness remains a growing issue in nearly all areas of the country (NAEH).  In urban areas, this struggle is often visually and physically represented by the presence of encampments. As jurisdictions struggle to understand how they should address homelessness, many are taking a punitive or enforcement approach (Thornton).  Despite knowledge that abating or “sweeping” encampments is harmful to encampment residents’ health (Chang et. al) and potentially breaks people’s access to local services/resources and residents’ sense of community (NHCHC), American governmental jurisdictions feel the acute pressure from housed residents’ complaints about visible poverty (Herring).  California, and similar jurisdictions, have attempted to pair enforcement actions with outreach and housing efforts so that folks can move from encampments into housing. At present, data are inconclusive about the effectiveness of encampment resolution efforts in achieving long term housing stability (Kendall).

 

As the state and localities invest in this model, it is imperative that we are able to answer the following questions:

What are the key factors that make encampment resolutions effective or not?  Given America’s history of over policing people of color, how can encampment resolution efforts ensure housing and services are provided equitably?  Which types of governmental support and service provision are necessary to move folks off the street and into housing?  What is the appropriate time frame for resolving encampments and what can be done in the interim?  What approaches in encampment resolution are working and how can we amplify those efforts?  We hope you will join us at our September symposium to seek answers to these questions and more!

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