Illegal to Sleep: Grants Pass’ Cruel War on Homelessness

Published 2024-04-18
In this compelling documentary, Invisible People traveled to Grants Pass, Oregon, a picturesque city of about 40,000 residents, which is now at the forefront of a significant legal battle with nationwide implications. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to deliberate on the pressing issue of homelessness and the criminalization of public camping. At stake is whether local governments like Grants Pass can enforce bans on sleeping in public spaces at all times. This decision could potentially affect the lives of approximately 600 homeless individuals living in Grants Pass alone, including 55-year-old Laura, who was forced into homelessness following the death of her husband, and Amber, who has received over 30 tickets for just existing.

Our investigation dives deep into the daily struggles of homeless people trying to survive in the rain and cold. The documentary covers the impending Supreme Court case, Grants Pass v. Johnson, which challenges the city’s public camping ban under the Eighth Amendment's clause against "cruel and unusual punishments." This historic case questions whether it's constitutional to penalize the homeless for sleeping outdoors when they have no other shelter options.

Grants Pass officials argue for the need to reclaim public spaces, while advocates for the homeless warn of the dire consequences of criminalizing homelessness. This video highlights the personal stories of affected individuals and explores the broader societal and legal implications. Join us as we shed light on this critical issue, examining the intersection of law, policy, and human rights in a community divided on how to treat its most vulnerable residents. Watch as we unfold the layers of this complex issue, leading up to a landmark decision that could reshape the landscape of homelessness across America.

For more information and how you can get involved, visit

This video is a partnership between Invisible People and the National Homelessness Law Center

Executive producer: Mark Horvath
Producer/editor/cinematographer: Alex Gasaway /
Additional footage: Cody Wanner    / @rcodywanner  

More stories:

Finland Solved Homelessness: Here's How    • Finland Solved Homelessness: Here's H...  

From a Tent to a Home: No Longer Homeless    • From a Tent to a Home: No Longer Home...  

#grantspass #homeless #homelessness

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About Invisible People

There is a direct correlation between what the general public perceives about homelessness and how it affects policy change. Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of the increasing shortage of affordable housing, lack of employment, childhood trauma, lack of a living wage, or the countless reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness.

We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Each day, we work to fight homelessness by giving it a face while educating individuals about the systemic issues that contribute to its existence. Through storytelling, education, news, and activism, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

This isn’t just talk. Our groundbreaking educational content reaches millions of people every month. Our real and unfiltered stories of homelessness shatter stereotypes, demand attention and deliver a call-to-action that is being answered by governments, major brands, nonprofit organizations, and everyday citizens just like you.

However, there is more work to be done on the road ahead. Homelessness is undoubtedly one of our biggest societal issues today and will only continue to grow if we don’t take action now.

Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy. Since our launch in 2008, Invisible People has become a pioneer and trusted resource for inspiring action and raising awareness in support of advocacy, policy change and thoughtful dialogue around poverty in North America and the United Kingdom.

All Comments (21)
  • @Tattooedladyd
    8 months ago, I was homeless while working a full time job. I was homeless for YEARS. I didn’t use drugs or drink. I just could not afford these insane rent prices alone. I got extremely lucky and found a way out. What is happening is an outrage!! This video got me a bit emotional. These folks are already down enough. I will never forget the feeling of hopelessness. Kicking people while they are down is NOT the solution. We are not supposed to knock people down further, we are supposed to lift people up. God bless the individuals who are helping the unhoused survive that nightmare and God bless you Mark for bringing awareness to such a disgusting situation. Also, that one shelter is not behaving very Christian-like. Disgusting.
  • @livinggood6876
    Why are we helping everyone in the world except homeless Americans in need?
  • @Yakman_J.Smallz
    All the money we give to non citizens and we in America wont take care of our own.. just SICK
  • @michigan57
    And we are bringing millions of people here,
  • @user-tt8yj7vm3m
    Having all this misery and sending billions and billions of dollars to finance wars abroad ,it is inhuman and evil
  • @Rakscha-Sun
    Sleep deprivation is a known torture method.
  • The American Government should be ashamed of themselves for treating people like this.
  • I became homeless after my wife passed away in 2021. I had a great job, was educated, had it all. Never thought it would happen to me, but it did. Most people are one paycheck away from this situation
  • @nicolewyatt4398
    If they gonna put a ban on homeless they have to put a ban on rent costing an average persons full paycheck.
  • @pumpkinpie7254
    You've gotta be a " special kind of evil " to hurt a vulnerable homeless person.
  • legally kicking a human down on their luck without financial resources to survive should be a crime 100%
  • @RioEin
    You know when i traveled across country i slept in a tent but i made sure to be either out of sight or out of town, no one wants to look at your shtbox tent and they dont care about your problems. The bigger problem is why did rent go from 550-750 to suddenly 1200-1800??
  • @nizammokhtar86
    Americans seem to have lost a lot of basic sense towards their people in their own country
  • @inthesky7836
    I bought Kim that tent about 5 weeks ago ;) She is blind in 1 eye and loves her cat Sylvester alot. She should as all others have a real shelter in GP. The cops make living here awful for them. The fines and crimimalization of these people make it so much worse. The system needs a complete reset for the better
  • My nephew is homeless. He lived with me for 2 years, but was unwilling to be cooperative and work with us. He has a problem, but is not willing to do what he needs to do to take advantage of the many programs available to him. He's not willing to even try. Even the city run tent cities where he could live and have stability in order to get a job..... he's not willing to even go because he's have to follow their rules.
  • @dougjohnson7907
    Ive been homeless 14 yrs, 11 months today. My fiancee was murdered in California in 2009. The police covered up her murder for a payoff. Next the murderers sued me and caused the loss of my home. Next the courts denied my right to due process by not letting me appear in court to defend myself. My case has been appealed all the way up to the 9th circuit court of apoeals. This government continues to defend the murderers so far. I have a recorded confession of the murderers admitting they poisoned her. Police admitted they lost the recording. This case will be appealed again to the Supreme Court next. This is our country, the USA in reality. Shocking. Disgusting. Unbelievable. I do not abuse drugs or alcohol and never have. I paid my home off before she was murdered. I kept this short and to the point. I have 65 pounds of facts and evidence in my file just on this case. The entire case is full of more shocking evidence of police corruption in just this single case alone. People need to be aware of what this government is doing to its citizens. I have no criminal record. I worked hard to pay for my home and paid all my taxes. This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. Her sister and I have contacted virtually every single agency in this USA for justice wirh zero results! Think twice if you believe this government will defend you against these kinds of criminals!
  • @Foundry_made
    We need to have an HONEST conversation about what is causing this epidemic of homelessness. If we are not allowed to talk about it, we cannot fix it.
  • @brandon5012
    All that money for war but can't build housing for societies most vulnerable.. smh
  • @unicomplex
    how can these governments be so cruel, it is absolute insanity