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When faced with the possibility of living entirely without shelter, people experiencing homelessness are turning in greater numbers to the last refuge they have available: their vehicles. This brief examines vehicle residency throughout Washington State, including the unique struggles faced by vehicle residents and the increasingly punitive response by local municipalities. The findings reveal that cities both embrace direct criminalization of vehicle residency as well as turn a blind eye to the disproportionate impact of traffic penalties — including both fines and vehicle impoundment — on a population that has no reasonable alternatives.

Keywords: homeless, vehicle, criminalization, shelter, constitutional law, poverty