Since its founding, Venice Community Housing has stood firmly against the criminalization of homelessness and poverty. Sweeping, ticketing, and otherwise penalizing people who are experiencing homelessness creates further trauma without addressing our affordable housing crisis in any meaningful way. One example of these unjust efforts is the 41.18 ordinance, which the LA City Council passed in 2021. It bans sitting, sleeping, lying, and using, maintaining, or placing personal property in areas throughout the city, including within 1,000 feet of shelters, safe parking sites, and homeless services navigation centers.
41.18 effectively makes it illegal to exist as an unhoused person in many public spaces and results in unhoused people being disproportionately fined, jailed, and harassed. There is not enough housing to move everyone indoors, so people living in 41.18 zones are simply banished from one area to the next. This is harmful for many reasons, including that it disrupts connections to outreach workers and service providers, which can make it even harder for those impacted to access housing. Additionally, “because the city ordinance does not strictly outline procedures for removing items and people from sitting or lying down in public spaces, the ordinance leaves room for LAPD to implement whatever strategies it finds effective” (California State University, Northridge). This heightens the risk of policing and sweeps at encampments.
Rather than continuing to promote policies that displace and punish people for seeking shelter, we need to invest in permanently affordable housing and supportive services. In the meantime, we can treat our unhoused neighbors with care and dignity and continue to advocate for safe and stable housing for all.