Press Statements

VOCAL-NY Responds to Supreme Court Decision to Criminalize Homelessness & Poverty

June 28, 2024

CONTACT: Mariah McGough,, 203 470 9979


The Answer to Ending Homelessness is Permanent, Affordable Housing — Not Fines, Tickets and Incarceration

NEW YORK — Today, the Supreme Court of the United States released a decision on the Grants Pass v. Johnson case, which sets a precedent to incarcerate, fine, and ticket thousands of homeless individuals just for trying to survive rather than going to the root of the issue which is that housing is unaffordable for millions of Americans. In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement attributable to Tracie Adams, a leader with VOCAL-NY’s Homelessness Union:

“The least democratic branch of our government has empowered communities across the country to criminalize poverty and obscure their economic failures from public view by throwing innocent people in jail. No one should be punished for sleeping outside, especially when their government is to blame for failing to prevent them from becoming homeless and investing in solutions that will allow them to secure a permanent home. Handcuffs and jail cells will only perpetuate the cycles of violence and scarcity that plague our country. We remain steadfast in our commitment to replace these carceral policies with compassion and care.

Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, since entering office, have utilized harmful rhetoric, directed vast governmental resources in policing street homelessness, and spent too many hours and political capital undermining our right to shelter protections. New York State desperately needs leadership that cares about all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and those at risk of losing their homes. If we can’t count on their leadership now, then our New York State Legislature and New York City Council must continue to demonstrate the leadership our most vulnerable require.” 


In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, VOCAL-NY stands with organizations across the country calling on the Biden administration and Congress to make a downpayment investment of at least $356 billion in the next year with continued funding in future years to ensure that everybody has safe, decent housing that they can afford. Specifically, we call for full funding of:

  • Universal rental assistance for lowest-income households 
  • Public housing repair and preservation 
  • National Housing Trust Fund 
  • Eviction and Homelessness Prevention
  • Voluntary supportive and emergency services 

Johnson v Grants Pass is a court case that said it is cruel and unusual punishment to arrest or ticket people for sleeping outside when they have no other safe place to go. The case started in Grants Pass, Oregon, when the city began issuing tickets for people sleeping on public property, even when there were no safe, welcoming shelter beds. Half of renters in Grants Pass residents are paying more than 30% of their income on rent. The lack of housing that people can afford is a major cause of homelessness in Grants Pass and across the country. 


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