Manteca, California has put two ordinances into effect in an effort to clear the city of homeless people. The first ordinance bans encampments from being set up on either private or public property.
While violations do not carry fines or jail time, the encampments can be taken down by police without asking for permission first, which was required in the past. The second ordinance is a ban on defecating or urinating in public places, which has become an issue since public restrooms were closed in a nearby city park. Manteca is not unique in its efforts to restrict the movements and activities of homeless people.
In wealthy Palo Alto, it is a crime to sleep in public. Fort Lauderdale forbids people to lie down while having bags or possessions with them. Honolulu disallows any type of lying or sitting down on public sidewalks. In some locales, it is a criminal offense to assist the homeless. Thirteen cities ban giving food, while others, such as Waikiki, give the homeless one-way airline tickets to the mainland.
The city of San Diego recently offered one-way bus tickets to some of its homeless population. Salt Lake City and Phoenix have gone in a different direction by making shelter a top priority before tackling unemployment, addiction or mental illness. If affordable housing and rent assistance were available to anyone who needs it, the United States could end the homeless problem forever.