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Ranking Member Waters Outraged at Supreme Court Decision Allowing for the Jailing, Fining of People Experiencing Homelessness

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, released this statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Gloria Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, Oregon to determine whether local government policies that ban sleeping or “camping” in public spaces without alternative shelter violate Constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. Grants Pass, allowing local governments to criminalize sleeping in public spaces, highlights just how extreme the affordable housing and homelessness crisis has become in this country, and the need for urgent, yet humane solutions. While I am sympathetic to the desperation some local leaders feel when it comes to this crisis, let me be very clear: ticketing and jail time—one of the most burdensome costs on taxpayers—will not end homelessness.

“This decision must be a wakeup call to federal, state, and local leaders, including business leaders, to do what’s right. We must work together to finally end the cruel cycles of poverty and homelessness. This means investing in the development of fair and affordable housing for the lowest income families, paired with supportive services, to help stabilize families and individuals. This also means that state and local governments need to step up and remove barriers to building new housing and maintaining existing homes.

“At the Federal level, I reintroduced my legislative housing package, including the ‘Housing Crisis Response Act,’ the ‘Ending Homelessness Act,’ and the ‘Downpayment Toward Equity Act.’ Together, these bills represent the single largest and most comprehensive investment in fair and affordable housing in U.S. history. Not only will these investments help finally put an end to this crisis, but they will also help businesses, communities, and our economy thrive.

“I urge my colleagues in Congress—both Democrat and Republican—to join me and Committee Democrats to get these bills passed into law. And I urge state and local officials to cut the red tape that prevents affordable housing from being built and people from accessing those homes. Now is the time to reject failed approaches like criminalization and instead provide the American people the leadership, investments, and proven solutions needed to end homelessness by ensuring everyone has access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing.”


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