A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Funders Together, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Enterprise Community Partners to the U.S. Supreme Court: “The Solution to Homelessness is Safe, Accessible, Affordable Homes”

FTEH Amicus Brief Image

Today, Funders Together to End Homelessness submitted an amicus curiae brief, in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc, in support of the plaintiffs in advance of oral arguments.

In January 2024, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would hear the case of Johnson v. Grants Pass, with oral arguments taking place April 22, 2024. This is the most significant Supreme Court case in four decades about the rights of people experiencing homelessness. At its core, this case will decide whether cities can punish people for things like sleeping outside with a pillow or blanket, even when there are no safe shelter options. 

Today, Funders Together to End Homelessness submitted an amicus curiae brief, in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc, in support of the plaintiffs in advance of oral arguments. As organizations that develop and support proven solutions to homelessness, the joint brief reiterates the solutions research has shown to end homelessness and that criminalizing people who are trying to meet basic needs, like sleep, is proven over and over to be ineffective and inhumane. 

“As institutions that invest and support proven solutions to homelessness and housing instability, philanthropy has a responsibility to also utilize its voice to protect our unhoused neighbors’ rights and lives,” said Amanda Andere, CEO of Funders Together to End Homelessness. “This brief emphasizes our organization’s and member’s unapologetic support for solutions that are rooted in humanity, choice, and the understanding that everyone deserves a safe place to call home.”  

The brief, submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, centers around the following:  

“Ample evidence and decades of experience demonstrate that criminalization does not solve homelessness.  The solution is straightforward: housing.  Criminalizing the existence of people experiencing homelessness with no other place to turn violates the Eighth Amendment, is an inefficient use of public funds, and ultimately exacerbates the homelessness crisis.”    

Criminalizing people for sleeping outside when they have no safe place to go creates unnecessary barriers, like outstanding fines and criminal records, making it increasingly difficult to find housing or retain employment. This exacerbates the trauma unhoused people experience and puts financial strain on both private and public resources as they are used on emergency support services to reduce harm instead of solutions that will prevent and end homelessness, like affordable housing, rental assistance, and eviction prevention.

If philanthropy is expected to invest additional funds into addressing homelessness outside of the innovative and evidence-based solutions they currently fund, it will take critical resources away from other crucial investments in housing, homelessness, preventative programs and solutions, and create yet another crisis that would require government resources and intervention. In addition, philanthropic funding is not equitable in all parts of the country, which could result in funding disparities in places that need it most, particularly for Black and Brown communities that have been historically marginalized and excluded from local, state, and federal resources to address homelessness. 

"The ruling on Grants Pass v. Johnson will have major impacts on how communities respond to homelessness. However, decades of research and evidence have already made it clear that the most effective way to end a person's homelessness is with housing and supportive services," said Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. "Now is the time to ramp up housing production, invest in low-barrier shelter, and fully commit to best practices. Arresting people for not having a home is an outdated, unjust, and historically failed tactic." 

Ultimately, the solution to homelessness is safe, affordable homes for everyone. Arresting or fining people for sleeping outside when they have no other option will never solve someone’s homelessness. Regardless of what the court decides in June, we must ensure all our neighbors have the homes they need to thrive.  

“The reality is we know what works to fight homelessness – we need to create more housing where people can afford to live and enact policies that keep people stably and safely housed,” said Shaun Donovan, President and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners. “With our partners, Enterprise has built and preserved one million homes, and we’ve seen the transformative impact they’ve had, especially for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. We urge the Supreme Court to protect the rights and basic needs of hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. and lay the groundwork for a future where everyone has a place to call home.” 

Read the full amicus brief here


On Monday, April 22 -- the day of oral arguments -- join Funders Together to End Homelessness, the National Homelessness Law Center, National Coalition for the Homeless, and other partners and advocates from around the country for an in-person rally in Washington, D.C. outside the Supreme Court of the United States courthouse. This is an opportunity for advocates and co-conspirators to show up in support of our unhoused neighbors and let SCOTUS, Congress, and the media know that homelessness is not a crime and that criminalization makes homelessness worse. The only solution to homelessness is ensuring that everyone has a safe and dignified home to sleep in. The rally will feature homeless activists, organizers, and advocates speaking on the impact of this case and what will happen if SCOTUS rules in favor of either Johnson or Grants Pass.

It is also an opportunity for philanthropy support and resource your local community leaders and partners to join the rally in D.C. or one of the local organized rallies happening across the country. 

For more information or to register to join us on April 22, visit the Housing Not Handcuffs: Johnson v. Grants Pass Supreme Court Rally webpage

For more information on Johnson v Grants Pass and ways philanthropy can engage, visit Funders Together's Johnson v Grants Pass resources page. 

Showing 1 reaction

  • Lauren Bennett
    published this page in Blog 2024-04-03 14:29:08 -0400

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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