The National Academies

NCHRP 20-06/Topic 25-04 [Final]

Laws Governing Homeless Encampments in Transportation Rights-of-Way
[ NCHRP 20-06 (Legal Problems Arising out of Highway Programs) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI)
Principal Investigator: Edgar Kraus
Effective Date: 12/11/2020
Completion Date: 12/23/2022
Comments: Completed - Published as NCHRP LRD 87.


Economic, social, and other factors cause a continuous increase in homeless populations throughout the United States.  It is not unusual for homeless individuals to establish refuge and shelter in encampments that encroach within, around, under or upon transportation rights-of-way, including but not limited to highway/freeway interchanges, overpasses, bridges, and tunnels.

Homeless encampments encroaching upon transportation rights-of-way can create significant social, health, safety, welfare, law enforcement, and management issues for local communities and state transportation agencies. Removal of homeless encampments can result in significant legal issues, including alleged civil rights claims based upon a violation of due process under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.  



The objective of this research is to produce a report that documents the laws, statutes, cases, procedures, policies, and other resources governing or addressing:  (1) a transportation agency’s prevention and/or removal of homeless encampments from transportation rights-of-way; and (2) the authorized use of transportation rights-of-way for homeless shelters and social services to assist transportation agencies in addressing safety, health, and public welfare issues and the ability of transportation agencies to control their rights-of-way.

The research should also include a comprehensive overview of the types of legal claims against transportation agencies that involve prevention or removal of homeless encampments from transportation rights-of-way, and the authorized use of transportation rights-of-way for homeless shelters.




STATUS: Completed. Published as NCHRP Legal Research Digest 87.

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