Grassroots organizations, service providers, homeless advocates, students, and politicians are rallying across the country to convey the message that homeless individuals have civil rights that must to be fully respected and protected.
In June, it became clear to us that a national civil rights movement is forming under the legislative banner “Homeless Bill of Rights.” Following the stall of California’s Homeless Person’s Rights and Fairness Act (AB-5) in the state’s Assembly Appropriates Committee, we saw two wins with the passage of bills by Illinois (May 28th) and Connecticut (June 5th). Both bills ensure that homeless individuals have the right to:
- move freely in public spaces without threat of harassment or arrest from law enforcement
- receive and maintain fair housing and employment
- access to emergency medical care
- register to vote
Other states, including Delaware, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont, are working to pass similar legislation in their communities. Rhode Island and Puerto Rico have already enacted Homeless Bills of Rights.
The National Coalition for the Homeless understands the weight and value Homeless Bill of Rights hold. Unfortunately, without these essential documents, un-housed persons face harassment or criminal charges for resting, receiving meals, asking for monetary assistance, and having personal property in public spaces (just to name a few).
National Coalition for the Homeless Newsletter.