Oregon Food Bank Amicus brief in Landmark Supreme Ct Case

Oregon Food Bank Files Amicus Brief in Support of Rights for Unhoused Individuals in Landmark Supreme Court Case

By Oregon Food Bank,

Oregon Food Bank Joins Medical Professionals, Legal Experts, Academic Leaders, Faith-Based Organizations, Advocates and Members of Congress to Urge an End to the Criminalization of Homelessness


Portland, OR — Oregon Food Bank proudly announced today that it has submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the upcoming landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v Grants Pass.


Johnson v. Grants Pass is the most important case regarding homelessness in the past 40 years. It will address the critical issue of whether laws punishing unhoused individuals for sleeping outdoors with basic protections such as a pillow or blanket – when no safe and accessible shelter options are available – are violations of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishment.


Criminalization will harm people — especially BIPOC communities and people experiencing poverty — and make homelessness more difficult and expensive to solve. Studies show that 90 percent of people returning from incarceration experience food insecurity (National Institute of Health). Among households with a formerly incarcerated member, 70 percent struggle to meet essential needs like food and housing (National Institute of Health). Oregon Food Bank joins the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC) and a broad array of hundreds of organizations and public leaders who have submitted 39 amicus briefs in solidarity with the rights of unhoused individuals across the U.S.


“At Oregon Food Bank, we know that the best solutions come from those of us who have experienced hunger and poverty first-hand. And over many years working in communities that disproportionately face food insecurity, we have heard loud and clear that housing and hunger are completely intertwined,” shared Loren Naldoza, Oregon Food Bank Public Policy Advocate. “With 90 percent of people returning from incarceration experiencing food insecurity it is clear that criminalization will only worsen hunger and housing insecurity. We need a multi-pronged solution to our state’s complex housing crisis to ensure everyone has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.”


Currently, more than 600,000 people in America experience homelessness on any given night, with nearly half — 250,000 — sleeping outside. And right now, more than 50 percent of renters in Oregon do not have enough money after rent to afford food and other basic necessities. This underscores an essential fact: housing insecurity isn’t just a housing issue — it’s a key driver of hunger. Data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development shows a rise in homelessness for both sheltered and unsheltered individuals in nearly every state. The primary cause of the record levels of homelessness we see today is the unaffordable housing market, according to research from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.


“This case challenges us to face the reality that using things like jails and fines do nothing to solve homelessness and actually make homelessness worse” said Jesse Rabinowitz, campaign and communications director for NHLC. “Punishing our neighbors who have no choice but to sleep outside pushes them further into poverty and makes it harder to secure work and housing. The overwhelming support from a diverse array of organizations that we see in these amicus briefs underscores the need for our elected officials at every level of government to solve homelessness with housing and support, not make homelessness worse by using jail cells and bulldozers.”


Below is an excerpt from Oregon Food Bank’s amicus brief:


There are a number of false narratives that cities have portrayed as “tools” for addressing homelessness, which in reality are unsupported and contradicted by the evidence-based practices of providing stable, affordable, and accessible housing for individuals. Punitive measures that criminalize the mere condition of homelessness do not solve the homelessness crisis. They make it worse. As they witness homelessness on a daily basis, the undersigned amici know that offering care and support — not criminalization — is the way to ensure these members of our communities are housed, fed, and healthy. 


Oregon Food Bank is proud to file with 15 other organizations across the state:

  • Cascade AIDS Project
  • Hygiene4All
  • Community Alliance of Tenants
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
  • Habitat for Humanity of Oregon
  • Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency
  • Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon
  • PDX Saints Love
  • Rogue Retreat
  • ROSE Community Development Corporation
  • Sisters of the Road
  • Springfield Eugene Tenant Association
  • SquareOne Villages
  • Street Books
  • Welcome Home Coalition

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.