The National Issue of Nuisance Ordinances in America
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The National Issue of Nuisance Ordinances in America

Unable to call 911: To Face Domestic Abuse, Discrimination and Eviction

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The National Issue of Nuisance Ordinances in America
Jefferson Block

I’d like to talk about the predicament that women in poverty face when they experience domestic abuse. Any ordinary person can call the police if they face anything that threatens their life. However, women who live in poverty experience something completely different. When they face abuse, they cannot call the police as freely as the average person. The reason being is if they do, they face eviction from their homes. This comes even in spite of the fact that they had no part in any belligerency because they are seen as a “nuisance” for bringing cops to a landlords unit. Furthermore, these evictions leave a record which results in housing discrimination for these women. Landlords can be punished financially for housing problematic tenants, effectively forcing their hand to blacklist these women's tenancy. These municipality back nuisance ordinances force tenants, especially those in poverty, to choose between receiving help or facing eviction, both of which threaten their lives.

In Maplewood, Missouri, Rosetta Watson got evicted after she had called police multiple times because of an abusive boyfriend. What she didn’t realize is that under “Maplewood’s law, residents can be penalized for calling the police more than two times from the same address within an 180-day period, punished with eviction from their homes or even banishment from the city for up to six months.” Thus, “Watson’s occupancy permit, a document required of city residents, was revoked in April 2012 under the nuisance policy”(Hauser). Despite being the victim in this circumstance, she ended up being punished for calling the police which makes no sense.

Being evicted for experiencing domestic abuse isn’t the only punishment these women experience. It’s possible for them to also be discriminated by other landlords since they have an eviction in the background of their past tenancy. ACLU lawyer and writer, Sandra Park, wrote about policies that allow landlords to discriminate against tenants and to threaten eviction if conditions are protested. Sandra writes about how landlords across the nation screen against tenants who have had an eviction case, even if they weren’t found guilty. This effectively blacklists tenants who look for housing since landlords can get away with it. To truly change this situation, US law makers must create a system that changes the way municipalities structure their nuisance ordinances so that more women don't end up being unfairly punished and evicted for experiencing domestic abuse.




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