Johnson v. Grants Pass

Criminalization doesn’t solve homelessness — it only makes it harder to escape.

Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets keeps people homeless for longer and distracts from real solutions like those we see working in communities across the country.

Why this case matters

About Johnson v. Grants Pass

This is the most important Supreme Court case about homelessness in 40 years.

Grants Pass, Oregon, is like many cities in America in that it has no welcoming shelter beds and is also thousands of housing units short of what is needed.

This case is simple: can cities that fail to meet everybody’s basic needs of housing or shelter punish people with no choice but to sleep outside for using things like blankets or pillows?

The outcome will determine whether the United States will be a country that fines or arrests people for experiencing homelessness or a country that invests in solutions that ensure everyone has a safe, decent, and affordable home.

Criminalizing homelessness doesn’t work.


Arresting or fining a person does not solve their housing problem. It accomplishes nothing.

Keeps people homeless longer

Not only are there fines, but the record follows a person attempting to secure a job and housing. It becomes a long-term barrier to exiting homelessness. 

Distracts from solutions

Rather than punishing individuals without housing options, our communities should commit to the challenging yet sustainable work that has repeatedly proven effective in resolving homelessness.

There are alternatives to arresting people that communities can act on now.

If a storm hit your city and displaced 500 people in a single shocking event, how would the city respond? Every community knows what to do in these emergencies — they have a disaster plan. The same model works for solving homelessness. 

Communities that are making progress share key strategies, which include: 

  • A shared, community-wide definition of what solving homelessness looks like and the belief that it’s possible
  • A collaborative, community-wide team that is accountable and working together as a command center
  • Comprehensive, real-time, by-name data on who is experiencing homelessness to continuously track progress and improve system performance
  • A racial equity focus to overcome racial disparities
  • Investments to address a nationwide shortage of safe, deeply affordable homes

No matter our race or income, we all need a safe place to sleep. 

  • Homelessness is increasing across the country as more households struggle to make ends meet. Rent is too expensive, wages are too low, and we have seen decades of failed housing policies. 
  • Fines and arrest records make it even harder for people to get and keep a roof over their heads. 
  • The real solution is providing access to housing they can afford and the support services they need to become stable. Handcuffs do not get anyone closer to housing.

Speaking out for solutions

Community Solutions, alongside 225 direct service providers and partners, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Gloria Johnson. This brief highlights the detrimental effects of criminalization and showcases proven solutions to homelessness.

Sleeping is not a crime


Scenes from the rally at the Supreme Court

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court to send a message: fines and arrest records make it even harder for people to get and keep a roof over their heads.

Take action

📣 Use your voice | Social media

We have developed a social media toolkit to help you spread the word about this case.

If you have any questions about this toolkit, please contact

Social Copy

Please use the included links in all posts. If you choose to develop your own messaging, please include the hashtags #HomelessnessIsSolvable and #JohnsonVGrantsPass. You can also tag @cmtysolutions or @BuiltForZero.

👩‍⚖️#JohnsonVGrantsPass is the most important #SCOTUS case about homelessness in 40 years. 🗣️ Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets only makes homelessness harder to escape.

🚫 Penalizing homelessness worsens the problem. #SCOTUS’s decision on #JohnsonVGrantsPass matters ⚖️ 

We need housing solutions, not fines. 🏘️

🚨 URGENT: #SCOTUS ruling on #JohnsonVGrantsPass, the most important case about homelessness in 40 years. Criminalizing the act of sleeping outside only distracts from real solutions to homelessness. Stand with us for change:

Arresting people for sleeping on the streets only keeps people homeless for longer. And it distracts from real solutions like those we see working in communities across the country. 

🚫 Lacking shelter and homes, yet facing fines for sleeping outside? That’s what’s at stake in #JohnsonVGrantsPass. This summer, #SCOTUS decides — can cities fine people for sleeping outside if there are no shelters or enough homes available? Discover more about this case. 

⚖️🛏️ At the core of #JohnsonVGrantsPass is a fundamental question — should cities lacking sufficient housing and shelter be allowed to penalize those forced to sleep outdoors? Learn more: 

🌌 Cold night, hard ground, only a pillow & blanket for comfort — and getting fined for it.

Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets is ineffective and keeps people homeless for longer. Learn more about #JohnsonVGrantsPass.

🚫🛌 Arrests and fines don’t solve homelessness — they extend it. Let’s focus on proven solutions instead. 💡🏠 Learn about #JohnsonVGrantsPass, the case #SCOTUS ruling on. ⚖️🗓️

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More news on the case

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“This case highlights the consequences of blaming people experiencing homelessness instead of holding our systems accountable for not being able to meet the housing and service needs of the individuals in our community.”

— Beth Sandor, Chief Program Officer at Community Solutions