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Tennessee made homeless camps a felony. Colorado is trying something else.

Tennessee made homeless camps a felony. Colorado is trying something else.

Many state governments are experimenting with legislative approaches to address homeless populations, particularly in their largest urban areas, that spiked

Many state governments are experimenting with legislative approaches to address homeless populations, particularly in their largest urban areas, that spiked during the pandemic.

Tennessee and Colorado offer competing — and divergent — solutions.

The main metropolitan areas in both states — Nashville and Denver — have, in recent years, like most other major cities, seen dramatic rises in housing costs and a dearth of affordable alternatives that have pushed out low-income people. Denver, for example, trailed only New York and Los Angeles in its number of people experiencing sheltered homelessness, according to the latest federal data. The livelihood of many who had already been living on the edge was irreversibly scrambled by the onset of the pandemic in 2020, and the recent surge in inflation has only compounded their ability to keep up with the cost of basic goods.

As a result, an increasing number of people and families have taken to the streets, triggering a range of responses.

In Tennessee, a law enacted by the Republican Legislature that goes into effect July 1 makes it a felony for homeless people to camp in parks and on other public property — a measure advocates say is “unprecedented.” In Colorado, meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis recently signed into law two bills creating campuses where people can get help in their transition out of homelessness by supplying housing, mental health services and job training. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/tennessee-made-homeless-camps-felony-colorado-trying-something-else-rcna32516


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