Homeless Americans Essay

This essay has a total of 1393 words and 5 pages.

Homeless Americans

In our current time of economic prosperity in the United States, many people are enjoying
greater wealth, higher earnings, and profitable investments. Unemployment rates are
reported to be low, and wages high. Yet there is still an extraordinary amount of homeless
people living in the United States. In an article entitled "The Criminalization of
Homelessness" Celine-Marie Pascale tries to convey how the homeless are being treated
unfairly by society. Criminalization might be a little too strong a word to apply to the
punishment of homeless people, but Pascale is trying to make a statement about the
homeless situation in the United States today. I would like to take a closer look at this
article and examine the points she is trying to make.

Pascale begins her article by stating that many U.S. cities are enacting laws which would
punish homeless individuals for doing things many ‘ordinary' people do all the time. For
instance, loitering or sleeping in public (320). She states that the California Homeless
and Housing Coalition estimates that there are around a million homeless people in
California alone. Eight self governed cities in southern California and at least one city
in northern California passed anti-sleeping laws, says Pascale (320). Another law in the
city of San Francisco states that it is "illegal to linger for more than 60 seconds within
30 feet of an automatic teller in use" (321). The city of San Francisco spent a lot of
time and money to arrest 15 people for begging in 1993 and Pascale alleges that there are
several other major cities in the U.S. with similar laws (321).

According to Pascale, Berkeley uses trespassing laws and loitering laws to keep people off
the sidewalks and away from places like parks and laundromats. And in Santa Cruz you can
be arrested for sitting on a sidewalk, sleeping outside, or even sleeping in a car (321).
Pascale asserts that the reason for these laws is to protect the businesses located around
these areas. She also says that "no one wants to run a guantlet of panhandlers to get to a
boutique or step over people sleeping on the sidewalk to buy a cappuccino" (321). And for
that reason, most business owners think it reflects badly on them if there are homeless
people loitering or sleeping in front of their store (321).

Pascale points out that, in general, most people believe that it is the individual's fault
that they are homeless and has nothing to do with society (322). She also states that
these laws are made to benefit the lucky people with houses rather than helping with the
problem of homelessness. Pascale concludes her article by citing another law the city of
Berkeley is considering; an individual can only carry one shopping bag full of their own
personal possessions (322).

Pascale used quite a few statistics and cited all of her sources. The article is, for the
most part, fairly credible and there is no doubt as to its validity. Her aim is to
persuade people that it isn't right to punish homeless people by establishing a bunch of
laws to keep them from bothering the rest of us. One main point of her argument is that we
have a problem with homelessness in this country and we are not going in the right
direction in trying to fix the problem. Pascale also points out that there are far more
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