Professor Quigley discusses homelessness in New Orleans in today’s Advocate article, “Displaced from one camp, city’s homeless set up another.”
Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor and the director of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center, said he thinks such sweeps accomplish little in terms of solving the city’s homelessness problem but are mostly an effort to sanitize downtown prior to big events.
“We are not going to police our way out of homelessness,” he said about the crackdown, which occurred a day before the Saints’ first home game of 2014.
Quigley said that besides being ineffective, the cleanups also violate the constitutional rights of the homeless, who are often deprived of property without due process.
He said several homeless individuals complained about losing their property during Thursday’s crackdown.
Quigley described homelessness as an ancient problem that’s essentially unsolvable. The homeless are often shuffled from one area to another in an attempt to make them less visible, he said.
“There is an ongoing tension between neighbors and governments to move the homeless to another place. Then when they get to another place, those neighbors aren’t that thrilled about it either,” he said.
Whether the city will attempt to shut down the new camp and what it intends to do about the site of the previous encampment is unclear. A spokeswoman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu didn’t return a request for comment Saturday.
According to Quigley, the homeless have a right to congregate on public property, but that right doesn’t always extend to setting up camp.
“You can’t tell them they can’t be on public property, but you can tell them they can’t set up a home,” he said.