Repeal Law Criminalizing Homeless People for Their Possessions

Target: President of L.A. City Council Herb Wesson

Goal: Don’t limit homeless people’s belongings to what can fit in a trash bin.

The Los Angeles City Council has recently passed a law that would criminalize homeless people if their belongings exceeded the amount that can fit in a 60-gallon trash bin. Homeless people who own too many possessions or who fail to take down their tents during the day can be arrested on a misdemeanor charge. This law was passed in order to make the streets cleaner and safer, but in the process has criminalized homeless people. This law is cruel and unfair to the homeless, and needs to be repealed immediately.

Los Angeles is experiencing “one of the nation’s worst homeless crises,” with the homeless population rising by 20 percent in the last two years. While struggling to find a way to give thousands of people homes, the council is also trying to clear up the streets so that traffic isn’t impeded. Their solution is to limit the amount of possessions a homeless person can have with them. This is a cruel irony, because these people had already lost almost all of their belongings when they were forced to live on the streets.

Furthermore, this new law is self-defeating. Los Angeles wants to solve its homelessness problem, but the arrest records this law would cause would keep homeless people from finding employment or housing. As Gil Cedillo, the only dissenting vote on this law, said, “We cannot go on two paths. One path has to be toward building more housing, more shelters, more storage. The other takes us to more criminalization, an ongoing effort that has failed us.”

Homeless people are not trash that needs to be cleared away. Demand that this law be repealed and replaced with one that actually gets people off the street.


Dear President Wesson,

Recently your council passed a law that would limit a homeless person’s possessions to whatever can fit in a trash bin. Though well-meaning, this law is disastrous to homeless people, and it should be repealed and replaced with one that focuses on providing them with homes.

Homeless people should not be criminalized for owning things that help them survive on the streets. The arrest records that this law would create will make it more difficult for them to find jobs and housing. This will only make Los Angeles’s homeless problem even worse. You can’t help homeless people if you’re criminalizing them at the same time.

The City Council’s efforts need to be centered on getting the people off the streets, not their belongings. Repeal this law and find a solution that works best for the homeless people themselves.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Matthew Woitunski

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