Truck-Dwellings: Affordable Housing Crisis Broadens Definitions Of A Home

Parked Cars photo by DDOT DC is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Cars in a tow-away zone? Or mobile do-not-disturb owner-occupied homes?

There is no guaranteed right to a home enshrined in the U.S. constitution. However, if you DO have a home, the 4th Amendment provides a number of rights of that citizen may enjoy in that home.

People who own homes can be more or less secure in them. People who don’t have homes do not qualify for such cozy constitutional rights, except . . .

What IS a home? There are no constitutional definitions. Are you homeless lying in the rain under a sheet of cardboard? Or are you at home? If you are actually in your home, humble as it may be, then you enjoy the protections of the 4th Amendment. For example, no one can enter your home without invitation or warrant in order to search it. Nor can anyone  drag you out of your home and frogmarch you to the edge of town.

Consider the implications for a tent city. If it is gathering place for homeless people in temporary shelters, their rights are few. If it is a collection of homes, the rights of the residents are enshrined not only in the constitution, but hundreds of years of case law that amplifies and protects these rights.

Without the desperation of a major housing affordability crisis and with homelessness increasing at an alarming rate, these constitutional issues might have remained untested. But the desperately poor without conventional homes need to armour themselves against uncaring authority in any way they can.

And they are doing just that! Recent court decisions are radically changing, perhaps permanently, the way we view a home. In Seattle, a judge has just recently ruled that a truck is a home. For more about the astonishing and potentially far-reaching implications of this ruling and other similar ones, read more at the two-way: A Homeless Man’s Truck Is His Home, Judge Rules In Seattle