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'Another slap in the face': KC's homeless population fears encampment ban after Supreme Court decision

Posted: 3:54 PM, Jun 29, 2024
Updated: 2024-07-02 11:13:02-04
Kansas City's homeless fear encampment ban after SCOTUS ruling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, allowing cities to enforce a ban on people experiencing homelessness from sleeping in public spaces.

“This Supreme Court ruling, it's another slap in the face and another slight towards us men and women who are homeless," Mark Whitlock said.

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Whitlock has experienced homelessness since being discharged from the military.

"I was in the military 16 total years," Whitlock said. "My unit has deployed and seen more combat than any other unit and they also experience the highest rate of homelessness and the highest rate of alcoholism, drug addiction and incarceration when they return home."

Since returning, Whitlock has found himself struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, and finding somewhere to sleep has been more difficult than ever.

"Most people who are homeless are homeless because they've experienced extreme trauma," Whitlock said.

After SCOTUS sided with the city of Grants Pass, it makes it legal for other cities like Kansas City to punish residents caught sleeping in public spaces.

“We know here that that doesn't work and we're fortunate that the cities and counties around us are not taking that approach," Christina Ashie Guidry said.

Guidry, who works for United Community Services of Johnson County, said city leaders should focus their shift on providing the proper resources.

“We have to put a little bit of willpower behind it and build that extra housing so that we're not looking at our parks full of people with nowhere to go," Guidry said.

The state of Missouri had a similar ban in 2022, but it was quickly overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2023.