A Grounded Approach to Our Homelessness Crisis
Gary Blasi is Professor of Law, Emeritus, at the UCLA School of Law. Before joining UCLA in 1991, he practiced for 13 years at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where he began representing homeless individuals and families in 1983. His research at UCLA has focused, in part, on the causes of homelessness, the social psychology of responses to it, and the effectiveness of interventions.
On February 8, 2021, the City of Boise, Idaho settled a case with six formerly homeless residents of Boise who had been cited in 2007 and 2008 for violating an ordinance that banned people from sleeping in any public space in the city. The plaintiffs claimed the ordinance violated the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the Eighth Amendment because it was enforced when they had no other place to sleep. Boise paid the six plaintiffs a total of $5,000, promised to spend $1.3 million to expand and improve the city’s shelters for homeless individuals, and agreed to clarify that the challenged ordinance permitted sleeping outdoors when there was no available shelter.1