Homelessness and Crime – Who are the Real Victims?
Imagine yourself reading an article stating that crime has increased this year in an area of Minneapolis where people experiencing homelessness have begun sleeping outside. Honestly, what would your first thoughts be? Who would come to your mind as the criminal and who would be the victim?
I can answer for myself that I immediately assumed that the people experiencing homelessness were responsible for the crimes. I’m embarrassed to admit that, because it goes against everything I understand about homelessness. I know that people who are homeless are not dangerous criminals, but what else would explain the increase in crime?
The following two articles set me straight. They were a good reminder that people experiencing homelessness are often the victims of violent crimes as many of them sleep in public spaces, making them incredibly vulnerable to assault. "Every night that I lay my head down, I'm in fear of my life," said Eric LaCour, who has been homeless for 11 years and believes he's lucky to have survived so long without being attacked. One woman he knew was strangled while she slept.
In a world where we are bombarded with media images of scary homeless people, those images can’t help but sink in. Articles like this help to bring us back to reality.
Violence shadows Mpls homeless
Police evict homeless from Peavey Plaza
If you liked these links, visit our Housing Matters! interactive online learning center, and see our Housing News section for more articles.
Shari Hemmingsen, Housing Matters! Intern, and Jill Kilibarda, Education and Civic Engagement Program Manager, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity