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NAMI Statement on Supreme Court Decision Allowing Communities to Criminalize Homelessness

Posted on June 28, 2024 Read Press Release Here

Arlington, VA – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released the following statement from Chief Executive Officer Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. on the disappointing U.S. Supreme Court ruling in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson:

“More than 250,000 Americans will sleep outside tonight because no safe and accessible shelter options are available. This number is more than a statistic for NAMI, it includes too many in our communities who live with mental illness.

Today’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson that effectively allows the criminalization of homelessness will undoubtedly have devasting consequences for people with mental illness who are unhoused. By allowing communities to pass laws that criminalize sleeping in public when no other safe and accessible shelter is available, people experiencing homelessness could face increased interactions with law enforcement, steep fines that perpetuate financial instability, and additional barriers to steady employment and stable housing – the opposite of what people need on their path to recovery and wellness. People with mental illness are already overrepresented in our criminal justice system; this ruling only exacerbates a systemic problem.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Policymakers should focus on policies and programs that expand access to stable, safe and affordable housing for people with mental illness rather than criminalizing the basic needs of people experiencing homelessness. The NAMI Alliance will continue fighting to ensure everyone has the services and supports – like housing – that they need to get well and stay well.”