Published: June 18, 2020

Graduate student in Health and Behavioral Sciences, Marisa Westbrook, and Associate Professor of Political Science Tony Robinson recently published, “Unhealthy by design: health & safety consequences of the criminalization of homelessness,” in the Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness. Although U.S. cities are expanding “anti-homeless” legislation – such as laws against public sleeping or use of shelter – there is little research on the public health consequences. Officials argue that laws forbidding public sleeping, and other forms of behavioral supervision, are “tough love” strategies to compel people experiencing homelessness to improve their health by leaving the streets and using services. To test these claims and understand the public health implications of “quality of life” laws enforced against the homeless, this paper reports on a community-based participatory research survey of 484 individuals experiencing homelessness in Denver.