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STATEMENT: Interim CEO of United Way Bay Area, Kelly Batson, condemns Supreme Court decision criminalizing homelessness

Statement from Kelly Batson, Interim CEO of United Way Bay Area, the area's most respected and effective philanthropic organization fighting poverty, condemning the Supreme Court’s decision in Grants Pass v. Johnson

June 28, 2024

Blake Case
(601) 832-6079

San Francisco, June 28, 2024The Supreme Court’s decision in Grants Pass v. Johnson is a blatant attack on our unhoused neighbors, and will only further entrench underrepresented communities in poverty.

This ruling, which gives states and cities across the country permission to punish people who sleep outside by ticketing or arresting them – even when there is no safe shelter option available – will make it even more difficult for people to escape homelessness.

Criminalization, like tickets, fines, and arrests, disproportionately harms Black and Indigenous people, who are overly represented among those who experience homelessness due to longstanding, systemic racism in housing and other factors.

The number one cause of homelessness in the United States is the chronic shortage of housing that is affordable for the majority of our residents. In the Bay Area, over one in three households do not earn sufficient income to make ends meet. This ruling jeopardizes the wellbeing and futures of 250,000+ people living outside nationwide, as well as millions of Americans who are just one missed paycheck away from homelessness. Punishing someone who has suffered the impacts of poverty only causes that person to face additional challenges like legal barriers or costly fees before they can be stably and safely housed.

Relying on jails and fines will never solve the homelessness crisis, but providing people with housing and services will. United Way Bay Area will continue to advocate for our region’s unhoused and housing-insecure neighbors. We denounce criminalizing homelessness. We fight for housing justice that supports people experiencing homelessness and promotes affordable housing that prevents homelessness.


About United Way Bay Area
United Way Bay Area (UWBA) mobilizes the Bay Area to assist people living in poverty and to dismantle the root causes of poverty. One of the most respected and highly effective philanthropic organizations fighting poverty, UWBA supports workers and students seeking employment and better careers, helps families struggling to meet basic needs, supports our neighbors toward achieving their financial stability goals, and advocates for housing justice for all Bay Area residents. Learn more at