The Mean Streets

It's tough to be homeless anywhere. But some cities are tougher on homeless people than others. The National Coalition for the Homeless this week published ...
by | January 13, 2006

It's tough to be homeless anywhere. But some cities are tougher on homeless people than others.

The National Coalition for the Homeless this week published a list of the 20 so-called "meanest" cities in terms of how they treat homeless people. There's quite a few surprises here -- both in terms of which places made the top 20, and which ones didn't.

Topping the list as the worst city in which to be homeless? Sarasota, Fla. Officials there have banned sleeping outside without obtaining permission, on public or private property. Forty-five people were arrested under the ordinance last year.

Rounding out the top 5 are Lawrence, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark.; Atlanta and Las Vegas.

The National Coalition singles out other cities you might expect to find on such a list -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. But some other places that might come to mind -- Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, DC -- aren't on the list.

Number 11 among the cities is San Francisco, but that's a designation that could be changing. Chris Swope's piece in the December issue of Governing details San Fran's "Housing First" approach to addressing its chronic homeless problem.

Zach Patton | Executive Editor | zpatton@governing.com