Resistbot Petition: Stop Criminalizing Homelessness in Missouri! (Mo. only)

An open letter to State Governors & Legislatures (Mo. only)

Stop Criminalizing Homelessness in Missouri!

30 so far! Help us get to 50 signers!

I urge you to oppose SB 1336 (Thompson Rehder), which would criminalize homelessness in Missouri. While I encourage new funding mechanisms and an increased response to homelessness in Missouri, the failed suggestions within this bill will only increase the difficulties faced by our houseless neighbors. Last year, Missouri’s homeless rate increased 12%, and it is clear that more must be done to address this crisis. This bill language would make homelessness a misdemeanor in Missouri. Individuals living outdoors would be subject to a fine and jail time if they refuse to go to shelter. People who are unable to keep a roof over their own heads are not going to be able to pay a $500 fine and will only face harm when incarcerated. This can begin a cycle of bouncing between jail and the streets, which not only increases the trauma and difficulty of that individual but also costs the taxpayers significantly. Also, individuals charged with a crime are 10 times more likely to experience long-term homelessness. In contrast, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs have been shown to lower the use of both emergency medical and law enforcement services by half. Additionally, the bill states that individuals would first receive a warning before being cited. However, that warning will not locate suitable housing or shelter for that individual. Only 22 out of Missouri’s 115 counties have emergency shelters, and not all of those are acceptable for all individuals. There is no entity in our state which maintains any type of database that lists where shelters are located, when they are open, when they have beds or are full, or what type of client they serve. Many shelters are only open in inclement weather. The camps discussed in this bill face similar logistical hurdles and will likely cost the Missouri tax payer a substantial amount. Missouri is not temperate, and a camp like this would require tiny homes to be safe for the temperature swings we experience. The only source of state funds which could be used for this is the Missouri Housing Trust Fund, which is significantly under-resourced and requests for that funding are already 300% or more than the actual resource amount each year. Homelessness continues to rise in Missouri not because PSH And Housing First are failures, but because they are underfunded. Only 1 in 5 households in Missouri who need housing assistance will be able to get it. There are no counties in our state where a full time minimum wage worker can afford to house themselves. The natural consequence of low wages and high housing costs is that many people will end up unhoused, even while working. As many as 60% of people experiencing homelessness are working. Missouri is missing over 114,000 affordable homes. This is not a case of just moving to a cheaper neighborhood, there are not homes available for these families. I encourage you to explore other ways to actually reduce and end homelessness, and vote NO on SB 1336.

▶ Created on March 19 by MO Residents

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