April 3, 2024
Media Contacts:
Johanna Kichton,
Coco Decker,


75 Organizations Sign On to Amicus Brief Outlining How Criminalizing Homelessness Will Harm Survivors of Gender-Based Violence, Who Are Often Homeless as a Result of Violence and Trauma
WASHINGTON D.C. – Seventy-five national, state, territorial, and local domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking organizations filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) urging it to support the rights of people who are homeless, including unhoused survivors, in City of Grants Pass, Ore. v. Johnson. This case is one of the most important SCOTUS cases regarding homelessness in the past 40 years. The amicus brief, authored by the National Housing Law Project and Sexual Violence Law Center, argues that housing is extremely limited for gender-based violence survivors, often forcing them to make impossible choices between sleeping outside or suffering continued violence. Criminalizing survivors will only increase their and their families’ risk of violence, trauma, and housing insecurity. 

“Any policy solution to homelessness should seek to house people, not put them in handcuffs,” National Housing Law Project Associate Director of Litigation Kate Walz said. “Everyone deserves a stable, safe, and healthy place to call home. Punishing people for not having a home is dangerous, ineffective, and worsens our housing crisis.” 

“We see homelessness as a last resort, not a choice, for survivors leaving abusive relationships, escaping their traffickers, or fleeing unsafe situations,” Sexual Violence Law Center Executive Director Riddhi Mukhopadhyay shared. “Criminalizing being unsheltered or unhoused forces survivors to go back to their abusers, back into the shadows.”

“Our 18th Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report found that, of survivors’ 13,335 unmet requests for services in just one day, 54% were for housing or shelter. NNEDV and our member state and territorial coalitions join with amici on this brief to highlight the confounding dangers survivors face from abuse, lack of housing and shelter, and inhumane fees that criminalize and punish survival,” said National Network to End Domestic Violence Interim President & CEO Dr. Wendy B. Mahoney.

As detailed in the amicus brief, gender-based violence is an epidemic that cuts across all racial, class, and cultural lines. Experiencing gender-based violence leaves survivors particularly vulnerable to homelessness and that homelessness in turn increases their risk of continued victimization. The actions of Grants Pass, Oregon to criminalize the acts of being homeless have dire consequences for survivors who are homeless or at risk of it.

Below is one survivor story detailed in the amicus brief, underscoring how harmful a decision sanctioning Grants Pass’ criminalization of homelessness ordinance could be:

“A survivor of child trafficking spent roughly half of their childhood homeless all over the West Coast, fleeing their trafficker. They spent time as a teenager homeless near Grants Pass, Oregon. Youth shelters were not always safe places to stay. They experienced rape in a Portland, OR, youth shelter and were pushed out onto the streets again, choosing to sleep outside where they had more control of their surroundings. They were trafficked again as a teenager by traffickers who groomed them in another youth homeless shelter in Oregon. Trafficking survivors often make tradeoffs to seek relative safety. For many, this means that sleeping outside is safer than staying with their trafficker or sleeping in a shelter that is not always safe.”

The 75 amici organizations join the National Homelessness Law Center and a broad array of organizations, including faith-based groups, medical professionals, academic leaders, advocates, and members of Congress who have submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in response to Grants Pass, Ore. v. Johnson, urging that the Supreme Court affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming that the criminalization of homelessness ordinance was unconstitutional.  

The full text of the amicus brief and list of the organizations represented may be found here.

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About the National Housing Law Project
The National Housing Law Project’s mission is to advance housing justice for poor people and communities. We achieve this by strengthening and enforcing the rights of tenants and low-income homeowners, increasing housing opportunities for underserved communities, and preserving and expanding the nation’s supply of safe and affordable homes. For more information, visit

About the Sexual Violence Law Center
The Sexual Violence Law Center’s mission is to protect the privacy, safety, and civil rights of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence through holistic and trauma-informed legal advocacy based in race and gender equity principles. SVLC uplifts survivor voices, ensures survivors are treated with dignity and respect, and holds systems and abusers accountable.
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