Public health consequences of policing homelessness

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Public health consequences of policing homelessness
Public Health Consequences of Policing Homelessness Credit: UNSPLASH: Matt Collamer

Two weeks in the past, Colorado State Patrol troopers started clearing out almost 200 residents from homeless encampments that encompass the Colorado Capitol. The enforcement of metropolis ordinances like tenting bans, park curfews and obstructions of public passageways is lawful. But the rise in “tough love” and “quality of life” policing in cities across the U.S. undermine the sleeping patterns, bodily security, and psychological health of folks experiencing homelessness, in response to a current examine from the University of Colorado Denver.

The examine, completed in collaboration with advocacy group Denver Homeless Out Loud, was printed in May within the Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness.

“These laws are enforced under the guise of ‘tough love,’ because municipalities want to push people into services,” says Marisa Westbrook, doctoral scholar in health and behavioral sciences at CU Denver, who labored alongside Tony Robinson, Ph.D., affiliate professor of political science. “But we’d heard that this ‘‘ policing is making sleeping on the street even more unhealthy, which is why we wanted to objectively document what those experiences looked like.”

In surveys with 484 folks experiencing homelessness throughout Denver, researchers discovered that 74% had been requested to “move along” by . Forty-four % had been ticketed or arrested after police contact for a ‘high quality of life’ violation. These “move along” orders lead people to hunt extra hidden and remoted metropolis places to sleep—almost 1 / 4 sought out hidden river or creek beds, whereas one other quarter selected to maintain shifting all evening.

Without the well-lit areas of public parks or the safety and assets of a gaggle, the reason why folks experiencing homelessness keep collectively, those that moved to keep away from police contact have been greater than twice as prone to be bodily assaulted and 39% extra prone to be robbed than homeless individuals who did not transfer.

When police enforced tenting or shelter bans, researchers discovered a 45% improve within the danger of weather-related health points like frostbite, heatstroke, and dehydration.

Seventy % report being woken typically by police and 52% are consistently fearful about police contact whereas sleeping. Those ceaselessly woken by police sleep a mean of two hours at a time and obtain lower than 4 per evening.

“You can imagine the impact on mental health,” says Westbrook. “They’re dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression, but staying in shelters is simply not an option for some people. During the pandemic, homeless shelters have had higher rates of coronavirus than outdoor encampments. Cities are clearing outside encampments, but there are not enough housing units or shelter resources for people to stay far enough apart at this time.”

The scenario will solely worsen. Nearly 420,000 Coloradans danger evictions within the coming months, with the best will increase starting in August, in response to the Bell Policy Center and COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project. In truth, with the eviction moratorium lifted and curbed , nearly 20 % of the 110 million renters nationwide are homelessness.

Across Colorado, there are solely 26 reasonably priced housing items out there to each 100 very low-income households, in response to National Low Income Housing Coalition. For Coloradans who make lower than half of the median earnings, they’ve seen reasonably priced housing decisions lower by 75% between 2010 and 2016—one of the steepest drops within the nation.

“A lot of folks are just hanging on month after month,” says Westbrook. “They’re hoping they won’t be evicted or they’re living out of their car. In 2019, Denver voters chose to maintain the camping ban, which is one of the cruelest things we could have done for the health and wellbeing of our community.”


Study confirms serious health problems, high trauma rates among unsheltered people in U.S.


More info:
Marisa Westbrook et al, Unhealthy by design: health & security consequences of the criminalization of homelessness, Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness (2020). DOI: 10.1080/10530789.2020.1763573

Citation:
Public health consequences of policing homelessness (2020, August 12)
retrieved 12 August 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/information/2020-08-health-consequences-policing-homelessness.html

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