car sleep

Lawmakers in the US have declared another war on poor people after laws were introduced to ban people from sleeping in their cars or other vehicles.

Families or individuals which are living on the breadline and have no money left for shelter often sleep in their cars as a very last resort when nothing else is available.

For many, it is a marginally better option than sleeping on the streets and being at the mercy of the elements and interference.

But now even that option is being snatched away.

Authorities in Silicon Valley are currently in the process of preventing people from being able to kip in their own vehicles.

For the moment, the law is being put on hold while the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers a challenge to a similar law in Los Angeles. A decision is expected in the next few months.

The outcome of that law will also set a precedent for other cities including San Jose and Santa Clara.

Currently, there are 70 cities in America which are trying to implement a ban on people using their vehicles to sleep in.

Those who break the law could be fined up to $1,000 and sent to jail. Lawmakers have attempted to justify the law by saying that it will be used to prevent “nuisances” caused by people sleeping in their cars.

Pamela Somerville, 59 was arrested and beaten up by police officer Mark Andrews for sleeping in her car in Wiltshire

Pamela Somerville, 59 was arrested and beaten up by police officer Mark Andrews for sleeping in her car in Wiltshire

However, campaigners have said that cities should do more to aid homeless people, rather than persecute them.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said that the recession has caused a rise in people being forced onto the streets.

She added that as homelessness has risen, more laws have been bought in to criminalise people who have nowhere to live.

Robert Dolci, homeless-concerns coordinator for Santa Clara County, said: “With the dearth of affordable housing for folks, sometimes they have no other option.”

A 2013 report published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that finding homeless shelters or emergency accommodation is also an uphill struggle.

Just 26 per cent of Santa Clara’s homeless people are able to obtain shelter on any one night.
At the same time, more than 50 cities in the US, including New York and Los Angeles have passed laws banning citizens from feeding homeless people.

One of the main causes of homelessness in the US is inability to afford healthcare costs or job losses (the welfare state is not as expansive as it is in the UK).

More than 48,000 ex-military personnel in the US are homeless, after having been dumped by the army once their usefulness has expired.

In addition, more than 1.6 million children are homeless.The UK has also seen a 30 per cent rise in homelessness under the coalition government and over 4,000 bed spaces have been lost in cuts to housing support services.

A recent survey by Homeless Link, revealed that nearly half of all homeless services reported budget cuts of an average 17 per cent.

At the same time, the government has passed laws to criminalise squatting, while many cities employ marshals to order homeless people out of the centre. The police are then called if the homeless person refuses to move out of the centre.

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