Being unhoused and getting arrested go together: each one makes the other more likely. A person who has been arrested is more likely to be at risk of losing their housing, and once a person has been incarcerated, the risk of being unhoused skyrockets.
Once a person is without housing, there is a higher chance that they will encounter police, break small ordinances associated with living unhoused (such as loitering and trespassing laws), or experience other stressors that increase the chances of engaging in crime. Prioritizing housing for people is therefore not only crucial for public health and economic mobility—it’s also a vital public safety intervention.
What might be surprising to some readers is that one of the first steps to increasing housing access may actually be deliberately shrinking the scale of the criminal court system.