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Harry Henderson, who is currently homeless, comes to you for advice. He argues that the Government is under a constitutional duty to build him a home. He argues that the Government has breached his unenumerated socio – economic right to shelter. He wants you to mount an action on his behalf. He wants to obtain a declaration that the Government has breached his constitutional rights. He also wants to obtain a mandatory order which directs the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to build him a home. ” Please advise him on the prospects of success of any such action, by discussing relevant case law.
In many ways, the nature of homelessness has not changed much in 25 years. It just seems to have become more severe. What has changed is how police and sheriffs’ departments see the issue of homelessness, and how they respond to it. Twenty-five years ago, in 1993, PERF conducted a large, nationally representative survey on policing and homelessness. The survey was sent to chief executives of 650 medium-size or large police agencies, and the response rate was 80 percent. Back then, 69 percent of respondents reported that the homeless individuals in their jurisdiction were viewed “predominantly as a police problem.” Nearly two-thirds said that homeless individuals in their jurisdictions had mental health issues. And the percentages struggling with alcohol abuse (88 percent) and drug abuse (59 percent) were very high. Those numbers could be even higher today. In January 2018, 72 percent of PERF members who replied to a questionnaire said that homelessness in their communities had increased in recent years; only 13 percent said it had declined. And more than half of the respondents reported increases in mental illness and substance abuse among the homeless population.