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Abstract

For the government to be successful in addressing homelessness, it must focus on the link between homelessness and substance abuse. In New York City and elsewhere, advocates are reluctant to publicize the connection between substance abuse and homelessness. Federal laws and programs that attempt to deal with homelessness, such as welfare, Social Security, federal housing laws, and the McKinney Act and other various federal acts do not provide a comprehensive approach to treatment of those who are both homeless and substance abusers. Because the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not provide a right to shelter, advocates have turned to state court. Unfortunately, few state constitutions have constitutional language providing for a right of the poor to care and housing. Additionally, the substance abuse problems seen in the homeless complicate any state statutes. This Article proposes a federal solution, arguing that the only long-term approach with any chance of achieving real success is a national remedy that includes treatment for substance abuse as a condition attached to housing.

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