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United States - Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - Criminalization of Homelessness, Discrimination and Segregation in Housing, and the Criminal Justice System (List of Themes) - May 2022

Date: May 16, 2022
Country: United States of America
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Minority Rights, Racial Justice
Mechanism: UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Report Type: List of Issues
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The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a suggested List of Themes Report related to the criminalization of homelessness, discrimination and segregation in housing, and the criminal justice system in the United States of America for the 107th Session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The United State of America (U.S.) fails to uphold human rights obligations by maintaining laws that criminalize homelessness. Discrimination in housing and the criminalization of homelessness are exacerbated by, and entwined with, collateral legal consequences (CLCs). These laws impact BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities, which represent a larger share of the homeless population in the U.S. In addition, due to discrimination in public housing and policies that do not adequately prevent discrimination in private housing, the U.S. fails to adequately protect the right of BIPOC communities to access housing and other related rights. The criminalization of homelessness results in more people interacting with the criminal justice system, and BIPOC communities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

The Advocates recommends that the Committee pose the following questions to the United States:

         Please provide comprehensive data, disaggregated by race and sex, about the number of people who are directly subject to one or more Collateral Legal Consequence. If these data are not available, please describe efforts to collect it.

         Please describe efforts ensure awareness of Collateral Legal Consequences prior to and during trial proceedings and pleas, both through pilot programs as well as efforts to adopt legislation nationwide.

         What steps have federal, state, and local governments taken to help people with criminal histories regain their civil rights and privileges? What barriers, such as burdensome and confusing processes, long waiting periods, and financial burdens are still in place and what efforts have been made to lower them?

         Please explain how public housing tenants and applicants are informed of their rights to appeal an adverse housing decision and any planned pilot programs or appropriations requests to ensure better access to justice, such as legal counsel, for people in these proceedings.