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Homelessness: Some Pa. Cities' Laws Against Sleeping Outside May Be Unconstitutional

Matt Rourke


At least 50 Pennsylvania municipalities legislate against sleeping or camping in public places.

The municipalities are among an untold number of places nationwide where officials should be on notice, some say, in light of the federal government's recent statement of interest in a lawsuit filed against the local government in Boise. The Department of Justice's filing says anti-camping ordinances are unconstitutional because they amount to criminalizing status (in this case, homelessness) — if they are enforced where there is no "adequate" shelter available.

Advocates celebrated the DOJ's intervention in the case and expect a ruling later this month with wide-reaching consequences. 

But there are major caveats, it seems.

Read the full storyat Keystone Crossroads' websiteKeystone Crossroads is a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.

Emily Previti is WITF's reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media collaboration focused on issues facing Pennsylvania's cities.
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