Strong majority against fining the homeless - 190 participants, 448 responses

Jun 18, 2016

In June, Lebanon city councilors dropped an ordinance that would have fined people $100 to camp or park overnight on city land. The decision to drop the ordinance came after a public hearing at which approximately 200 people attended. On June 18, the LFDA decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should the homeless be fined if they sleep on public property?"

“Should the homeless be fined if they sleep on public property?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Participation:

A total of 86% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 14% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 448 responses from 190 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

No: A majority, at 96% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, opposed fining the homeless if they sleep on public property.

  • “I've been homeless, and there's no way that these politicians coming up with punishments for everything can understand what it's like not to have enough money for food, clothing, or shelter.”
  • “They can't go onto private property, so where are they supposed to lay their heads at night? They have no home.”
  • “This is a ploy to fine people, arrest them when they can't pay said fines, then incarcerate them.”

Yes: A minority, at 4% ‘yes or no’ respondents, supported fining the homeless if they sleep on public property.

  • “A fine would tell the homeless population it's not right to do that and [that] they should find help from a homeless shelter.”
  • “We need adequate mental health facilities for the homeless that really need them. The rest are drug addicts and criminals and should be run out of town.”
  • “If you make the homeless comfortable in their status, you remove the incentive for them to pick themselves up and improve their lot in life.”

Other: As noted above, 14% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Broadening the discussion: “Not all homeless people are mentally ill or drug addicts.”
  • Questioning the cost of living: “I can't even afford housing. I lost my job and now thanks to family I stay with them, but others aren't so lucky. If I had a job again I still wouldn't be able to afford housing.”
  • Expressing concern at the rationale behind the legislation: “If someone is homeless, how would you think they could pay the fine?”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should the homeless be fined if they sleep on public property? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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