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A homeless man sits on a bench in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 20, 2016. (Photo: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Homelessness a 'Symptom of Greed' by the Rich, Says Bernie Sanders, Not a Crime by the Poor

2020 candidate weighs in on Las Vegas, Nevada ordinance that would fine or jail people for sleeping on streets

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday condemned a proposed ordinance in Las Vegas, Nevada that would effectively criminalize homelessness in the city by making it illegal for people to sleep on sidewalks and in other public areas.

"Homelessness isn't a crime, it's a symptom of the greed that is destroying housing in America," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement.

"We are in the middle of a national housing crisis, with Nevada having the greatest shortage of affordable housing for the lowest income earners, while the wealthiest have it all."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

The Las Vegas City Council is set to begin debating the ordinance on Wednesday amid widespread opposition from affordable housing advocates and civil liberties groups. The Sanders campaign said it plans to use its massive email list to drive turn-out to a rally outside Las Vegas City Hall as city councilmembers discuss the measure.

"We are in the middle of a national housing crisis, with Nevada having the greatest shortage of affordable housing for the lowest income earners, while the wealthiest have it all," said Sanders. "That has got to change. When we are in the White House, we will stop the criminalization of homelessness and spend nearly $32 billion over five years to end homelessness once and for all."

NBC News reported that the ordinance, drafted in September, would "make it a misdemeanor to rest, sleep, or 'lodge' in Las Vegas' downtown district and other residential areas if shelter beds are available. Those found in violation could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to six months."

Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, a Democrat, called the measure "short-sighted and inhumane" in a series of tweets Tuesday.

"The city says the ordinance will only be used when there aren't enough shelter beds and people are found sleeping on spaces like sidewalks. SPOILER ALERT: There are never enough beds," said Cancela. "The ordinance criminalizing poverty has massive community opposition, there's data that shows this doesn't work, and there's reason to believe this hurts better solutions. Seems to me like this is clearly bad policy."

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'Yeah, And?': Ocasio-Cortez Embraces GOP Freakout Over Helping Women Skirt Abortion Bans

"Republicans are mad because I am sharing this information," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. "Too bad!"

Julia Conley ·

WATCH LIVE: Top Meadows Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Testifies at Surprise Jan. 6 Hearing

Hutchinson, who has spent more than 20 hours in deposition with the House panel, is expected to provide more damning evidence of the role that Meadows played in Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Oxfam Condemns G7 for Leaving 'Millions to Starve' as Global Hunger Surges

"Faced with the worst hunger crisis in a generation, the G7 have simply failed to take the action that is needed," said Max Lawson of Oxfam International.

Jake Johnson ·

'Horrific': 50 Migrants Found Dead in Abandoned Trailer Truck in Texas

"We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening," said Rep. Chuy García. "People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life."

Jake Johnson ·

Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·

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