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  • Golden United Housing Task Force

Supreme Court Rules Against People Experiencing Homelessness

Updated: Jul 4

Homelessness is caused by a lack of housing that people can afford.


"The enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment."



What is the case about?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a case called Johnson v. City of Grants Pass.  This case is about whether people experiencing homelessness have a constitutional right to camp on public property when they do not have a place to sleep.  The question was whether laws regulating camping on public property constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court held that, "The enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment."


Why does this case matter?

More than 600,000 people are experiencing homelessness in our country, and nearly half of those people sleep outside.  Homelessness is increasing across our country as more and more people struggle to make ends meet.  Homelessness is caused by a lack of housing that people can afford.  Solutions include keeping people in their homes and providing people with housing and services. 


How does Golden address homelessness?

The City of Golden has information about several resources for unsheltered and at-risk residents. Information about Strategies to Address Homelessness in Golden was presented at a City Council Study Session on September 26, 2023. In Jefferson County, more than 800 people are homeless, and there are several efforts to prevent homelessness in Jeffco. Heading Home Jeffco is a collaboration to address and end homelessness in Jefferson County.


WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The Supreme Court decision does not require that local governments criminalize people experiencing homelessness.

SEND AN EMAIL TO THE CITY: Send an email to thank our Golden City Council and staff for their work to prevent homelessness and for their resources that support unsheltered and at-risk residents. Emails sent to councilcomments@cityofgolden.net received by the end of each week will be compiled and published the following Monday.

DONATE TO AND VOLUNTEER WITH LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT UNHOUSED AND AT-RISK RESIDENTS:

VOTE:  Register and check or update your voter registration at GoVoteColorado.com

BE INFORMED (see the data and resources section below)


Click down for Colorado and Jefferson County Homelessness Data and Resources


Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissent - SCOTUS Ruling (joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson):

"Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime. For some people, sleeping outside is their only option. The City of Grants Pass jails and fines those people for sleeping anywhere in public at any time, including in their cars, if they use as little as a blanket to keep warm or a rolled-up shirt as a pillow. For people with no access to shelter, that punishes them for being homeless. That is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Punishing people for their status is “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment."


Click down for Statements from Colorado Organizations about the SCOTUS Ruling

Click down for Statements from National Organizations about the SCOTUS Ruling


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