Apr 27, 2013
The California homeless rights legislation follows intense advocacy by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Jericho: A Voice for Justice, the Western Regional Advocacy Project and other organizations.
"We need to stop criminalizing the behavior of people who have nowhere else to turn," said California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. "The Homeless Persons' Bill of Rights begins to give us a framework for appropriate approaches to protecting our communities and those who are vulnerable."
The California Homeless Bill of Rights would guarantee certain rights for homeless people across the Golden State, including:
- Freedom from discrimination in law enforcement,
- Freedom from discrimination in employment,
- Freedom from discrimination in housing and shelter,
- Freedom from discrimination in public benefits,
- Protection of the right to use public space,
- Protection of the right to keep personal property,
- Protection of the right to engage in life-sustaining activities,
- Protection of the right to legal counsel when prosecuted.
"California has a long history of using discriminatory laws to keep 'undesirable' people out of public places and to hide our bigger social problems," said Organizing Director Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project.
"We're introducing this bill of rights because we believe that the time has come to address the wrongs and most importantly stop them from ever happening again," Boden added.
The economic recession has put many Californians out of work and out of a home. Some cities have reacted to increased homelessness by outlawing the feeding of people living on the streets and banning the act of sitting on a sidewalk.
Los Angeles Community Action Network Co-Director Becky Dennison declared, "When we've criminalized sleeping, standing, and sitting down, we've basically criminalized a person's existence. A bill like this is long overdue."
The following video with Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project should be watched by all.
California Homeless Bill of Rights