Laws that criminalize poverty are a significant issue in Kansas and across the country. Law enforcement routinely targets houseless and impoverished communities for municipal ordinance violations that criminalize basic acts of human existence – like sleeping or asking for food. These ordinances take the form of anti-camping and anti-panhandling laws that create barriers for these communities in the name of public health, law and order, or protecting business and political interests. These laws turn basic human functions, such as eating, hydrating, securing temporary/permanent housing, and protecting oneself from the elements, into criminal acts.
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