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    Policing Homelessness: A review of the literature on policing policies that target homelessness and best practices for improving outcomes

    Homelessness Policy Research Institute

    Year: 2021

    On Thursday, July 29th 2021, Los Angeles (LA) Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law an ordinance amending Section 41.18 of the Los Angeles Municipal code. The series of amendments, proposed by LA City Council, reinstates prohibitions to “sit, lie, sleep, store, use, maintain, or place personal property upon any street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way” in much of Los Angeles City, with particular enforcement around homeless services delivery sites, schools, parks, libraries, and underpasses. Violating these laws can carry fines for people experiencing homelessness (PEH) who refuse shelter and services, and authorizes forced removal if they do not voluntarily vacate encampments. Though the legislation includes a stated goal to prevent interactions between law enforcement and PEH and avoid arrest, advocates argue the ordinance will likely result in more contact between police and PEH. This legislation comes at the same time as residents and elected officials have renewed calls to re-examine the role police play in society, with a particular emphasis on the impacts of policing Black communities. Considering these public requests, the purpose of this paper is to examine findings from the literature on the types of policies that cause interactions between municipal and county law enforcement (referred to as police hereafter) and PEH, their outcomes, and the models and best practices being used by local governments to minimize negative outcomes.

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