Alternatives to Arrests and Police Responses to Homelessness

Research Report

Alternatives to Arrests and Police Responses to Homelessness

Evidence-Based Models and Promising Practices


In response to unsheltered homelessness, communities often turn to punitive responses: issuing ordinances that criminalize homelessness, clearing homeless encampments, and arresting people. This results in people becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness and jail. The solution to this cycle is Housing First, an evidence-based strategy that has been proven to help people stay in housing and improve their quality of life. Until housing is available at the scale needed to end homelessness, communities can improve outcomes for people enduring unsheltered homelessness and for the community as a whole by considering promising innovations that prioritize inclusive public space management and shift the role of law enforcement agencies from policing homelessness to solving homelessness in partnerships with service providers. This report reviews the evidence for housing as the solution to homelessness and emerging evidence for inclusive public space and alternative crisis response policies and practices.

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