Time to Stop the Hatred: Ten Years Later
Living on the streets means living with a fundamental lack of personal security. People who are homeless are highly vulnerable to being victims of violent crimes. They face the highest rates of criminal victimization of any group of people in the United States. The National Coalition for the Homeless documents these crimes in their annual report, “Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA.”
Every day that a person lives on the streets—under bridges, in alleyways, or door wells—he must face the challenges of daily survival. Every day brings uncertainty: “how will I find food, a dry place to sleep, a friendly face to talk with, or treatment for a health problem?” But the most frightening uncertainty is connected to vulnerability. “How will I stay safe? Is this the day I will be brutally attacked for being homeless?”
While most of us worry about being the victim of crime, homeless individuals face the highest rates of criminal victimization of any group. According to a recent report, Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA, released by the National Coalition for the Homeless, people who are homeless face a risk of criminal victimization 66 to 82 percent above any other subgroup in the United States and Canada.
The National Coalition for the Homeless, an organization of currently and formerly homeless individuals, has monitored and reported on these crimes for the past ten years. The Coalition monitors news reports from across the United States, interviews advocates and providers, and gives people who are homeless an opportunity to speak out.
In 2008, the report documented 106 violent attacks. Twenty-seven were fatal. In the ten years that the National Coalition for the Homeless has tracked the crimes, 880 individual attacks have been documents. Two hundred and forty-four deaths resulted from these violent attacks.
The report includes information on the perpetrators of the attacks. When averaged together for the past ten years, 78 percent of the accused/convicted attackers were under the age of 25. The youngest attacker was 10 years old. In contrast, the victims of these attacks tended to be between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. This group accounts for 64 percent of the attacks. In addition, attackers tend to be male.
The attacks are committed against both men and women and are often extremely violent, including rapes, shootings, severe beatings, and setting fire to a person. The explanations given, while often unknown, typically reflect contempt (“it was just a vagrant” or “it was fun”).
If a person is attacked on the basis of her religious affiliation, the color of her skin, or sexual orientation, the crime is considered a hate crime and is a federal offense. When a person is attacked for being homeless, it is rarely considered a hate crime. Maryland is the only state in the nation to include individuals who are homeless as a protected class under its hate crimes law.
Read Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA to learn more about how to be informed and involved in helping to protect people who are homeless from violent acts.
Check out the "Related Items" to the right of the screen.
Type of Resource: