November 30, 2017

Policy Toolbox

ACLU of Washington: Homelessness Advocacy Resource Center

This Toolkit includes template letters, primers on important cases, and sets of talking points on (1) anti-panhandling ordinances (2) the criminalization of camping and (3) sweeps of encampments by city officials.

Encampment Principles and Practices

Based on input from federal, state, and local representatives, service providers, and people experiencing homelessness, as well as relevant domestic and international laws, our initial findings revealed certain key principles and corresponding practices that appear to be important for successful interventions to end encampments in our communities. As a caution, we note that while incorporating interim encampments into a plan to end homelessness may provide homeless individuals with an improvement in their quality of life and reduce calls for criminalization, the community must also have a serious and funded long-term plan that ensures the availability of permanent, adequate, appropriate housing for all, so encampments do not become a permanent feature of our cities and towns.

NAEHCY: Making State Laws Work for Unaccompanied Youth

This publication is designed to assist youth, advocates, educators, service providers and others in creating state and local laws and policies to support unaccompanied homeless youth under 18.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council: Policy and Advocacy Toolkit

This toolkit is designed to aid staff, clients, administrators, board members and other community members in advocating for policy change. It includes information about the legislative process, how to have successful meetings with legislators, and more.

NCH: Lobbying FAQ

Published for National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, this FAQ sheet provides fundamental and straightforward tips to successfully lobby your local and federal senators and representatives.

NLIHC Advocate Guide 2017: A Primer on Federal Affordable Housing & Community Development Programs

“The guide comprises hundreds of pages of useful resources and practical know-how, written by leading experts in the affordable housing and community development field, with a singular purpose: to educate advocates and affordable housing providers of all kinds about the programs and policies that make housing affordable to low income people across America.”

NLCHP in partnership with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP): Police Trainings and Diversion Teams Directory

This Google Doc spreadsheet serves as a resource sharing platform that ultimately supports local law enforcement in establishing best practices to effectively, safely, and humanely manage their interactions with local homeless populations. It contains information on Police Homeless Outreach Teams, police trainings, diversion teams, existing local partnerships, and any supporting materials. We hope this will assist organizations in their local efforts to proactively engage law enforcement in homelessness communities.

Scoring Points: How Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness Can Increase HUD Funding to Your Community 

For the fourth time since 2015, the annual Notice Of Funding Application (NOFA) offers additional points to communities that document the steps they are taking to combat the criminalization of homelessness.

USICH and HUD Critique Encampment Sweeps in San Diego

In November, HUD and USICH conducted a site visit to San Diego in the midst of a hepatitis A outbreak amongst people experiencing homelessness, to which the city responded by conducting heavy sweeps of homeless encampments. Following urging from the Law Center to be more vocal regarding criminalization of homelessness, HUD and USICH sent a letter to city and county officials, expressing “significant concerns that … law enforcement personnel, focused on clearing areas for necessary cleaning activities, are complicating the ability of outreach efforts to connect with people and to engage them into housing and services opportunities,” and stating they “strongly recommend utilizing trained outreach workers as lead for reaching out to and working with people who are unsheltered, rather than law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement personnel should be involved in such efforts primarily to ensure the safety and well-being of outreach workers and the unsheltered people, not as the leads for interacting with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.” The letter also expresses concern about the use of temporary city-run encampments and calls for people in them to be placed into temporary or permanent housing as soon as possible. This letter could be useful for advocates objecting to sweeps in their own communities.

Access our legislation models and policy proposals here.