Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading: Homelessness in the United States under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State policies of criminalization of homelessness routinely penalize individuals for their involuntary status in violation of their right to be free from discrimination under Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR. This discrimination further entrenches the laws and societal norms that allow systemic violations of these rights. The harms and violations of criminalization, from voter disenfranchisement to family dissolution, are especially acute for homeless people who experience one or more multiple intersecting forms of discrimination, including people of color, immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with disabilities. Particularly alarming is the routine penalization for self-help solutions designed to ensure basic survival, such as forming alternative communities like tent cities, creating self-designed sanitation processes, and using public space to perform basic bodily functions when there is no other option available.