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Partly due to their visible nature, homeless encampments are often at the core of the debate about how local governments should deal with homelessness. This brief describes why encampments exist and the many benefits that encampments can provide to their residents. In addition, the brief examines the disruptions of encampments by local governments, most commonly known as “sweeps.” The findings indicate that disruptions of encampments are ineffective, traumatizing to residents, and potentially unconstitutional. The brief concludes with recommendations to policymakers on how they can embrace encampments without failing to pursue more permanent solutions to homelessness.

Keywords: homeless, poverty, encampments, shelter, constitutional law