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Mean cities, kind cities

NCR Staff

According to the Washington-based National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the five U.S. cities with the "meanest streets" -- determined by a city's clear intention to expel the homeless -- are Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, Dallas and San Diego.

Three cities and one county, however, were praised for a more constructive approach to homelessness:

  • In West Hollywood, the city has created an innovative community policing program that uses service providers rather than police officers to make initial contact with homeless persons.
  • Seattle, responding to a lack of downtown public toilets, has offered to fund a "hygiene center" to provide free toilets, showers and laundry facilities for homeless people and other city residents.
  • Tucson, Ariz., has created a standing committee of advocates for homeless people in an effort to resolve complaints before taking law enforcement action.
  • Dade County, Fla., has placed a 1 percent tax on meals purchased at restaurants grossing over $400,000 per year to fund facilities and services for the homeless.

National Catholic Reporter, December 27, 1996/January 3, 1997