Opinion: California is rife with laws used to harass the homeless

homeless tent, LA.

An encampment in Los Angeles, one of the California cities with the most restrictions affecting the homeless (Chris Sansenbach via Wikimedia Commons)

Anti-Okie laws. Sundown towns. “Ugly” laws.

Legislation targeting migrants, people of color and people with disabilities have all been struck down by the courts. But as the U.S. homelessness crisis has grown over the past decades, so have new laws targeting the homeless.

Nearly a quarter of the nation’s homeless population now lives in California, and according to a new study by Berkeley Law’s Policy Advocacy Clinic, California cities have enacted hundreds of new laws that single out or disproportionately affect homeless people. If current trends continue, according to the study, they will add more than 100 new anti-homeless laws this decade.

The clinic’s director, law professor Jeffrey Selbin, is coauthor, with Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, of an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on the proliferation of vagrancy laws in California — and which cities lead the pack. Read their commentary here.