Report Analyzes Criminalization and Displacement of Unhoused People in Lancaster

Unhoused residents in Lancaster, a sprawling community along the northern outskirts of Los Angeles County, must somehow find a way to survive the harsh climate of the Mojave Desert. Instead of ensuring that all residents have access to life-saving housing and services, city officials’ primary response has been to organize a dragnet of aggressive enforcement designed to cite and jail community members for being unhoused and banish them to the high desert in unincorporated Los Angeles County. 

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) officers are contracted to provide police services in Lancaster, and as part of this function, they enforce the ordinances that criminalize homelessness. They also use their authority to harass and banish unhoused community members to the high desert by threat of citation. 

An investigation by the ACLU SoCal finds that Lancaster’s campaign to criminalize and banish its unhoused community members is not only cruel—it is also potentially deadly. Furthermore, it is unlawful. 

Banished and Abandoned: Criminalization and Displacement of Unhoused People in Lancaster is compiled from interviews with 53 unhoused Lancaster residents, engagement with local activists and organizations working on homelessness issues in the region, and a review of thousands of publicly available records.