SCOTUS Ruling Fails Unhoused Survivors

Today’s SCOTUS 6-3 ruling in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson is a huge blow to survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

The US Conference of Mayors cites IPV as a primary driver of homelessness by many local governments. According to Point-In-Time Count data from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, adult survivors of domestic violence comprised at least 53% of those seeking emergency shelter, 62% of those seeking rapid re-housing services, and 66% of those receiving homelessness prevention services in 2023. And we know Virginia’s sexual and domestic violence agencies are underrepresented in this count.

Any efforts to end the crises of IPV and homelessness must recognize their connection. With domestic violence shelters frequently full and other emergency shelter options limited, it is not uncommon for survivors to choose a car or a public space over their home as the safest option in which to reside. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could criminalize survivors by shifting the responsibility of “fixing” homelessness to the police, a tactic that has consistently shown to have no effect in helping the unhoused.   

Unhoused people deserve compassion, respect, and dignity, none of which was shown by SCOTUS in this decision. We urge Virginians to work together on true solutions to homelessness in our communities, to have compassion for all people, and protect public spaces for everyone, including the most vulnerable amongst us.

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