Many cities have begun to get tough on people they describe not as homeless but as beggars, reports USA Today. They’re passing laws to clear city streets and make residents feel safe as they go about their business. Joseph Patner, a city attorney representing St. Petersburg, Fl., in a lawsuit filed by six homeless people, said the word “homeless” doesn’t appear in any of the city ordinances listed in the suit. “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” Patner said.
Tulin Ozdeger of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty said some cities are engaging in all-out campaigns against homeless people. She said multiple ordinances and increased harassment by police have reached the point that simply being homeless has nearly become a crime. “In this economy, cities are facing really tight budgets, so they may not be able to build up or fund housing to meet the need,” said Ozdeger, whose center is assisting in a lawsuit against St. Petersburg.