Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Americans Divided on Banning Sleeping in Public Spaces

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston visits homeless encmapmentDenver Mayor Mike Johnston visits homeless encampment
Photo: Kathryn Scott, The Denver Post

Although the public, especially in urban areas lists homelessness as one of their top concerns, they are divided on one of the main strategies cities use to manage the problem – namely a ban of sleeping in public space. A new Marquette Law School Poll on recent Supreme Court oral arguments found that Americans were divided 47 percent in support of a city being able to ban sleeping, in public space, and 36 percent opposed.

As expected, partisans disagreed. Only about a third of Democrats (36%) supported a ban whereas 63 percent of Republicans were in support.

Can Cities Ban Sleeping in Public Spaces?

But the biggest gap in opinions was seen between under and over 30 years old. More than half (58%) of Generation Z opposed a sleeping ban but among older Americans (60 years old plus), 59 percent support a ban and only a quarter (23%) oppose.

The challenge for urban Democratic leaders is the public’s demand to address homeless and the street population but the resistance of young Democratic voters to use a public sleeping space ban as a tool.

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