Right to Rest Act Hearing Part Two!
Monday, April 27, 2015
12:30 PM, East Steps of the Capitol (200 E Colfax Ave – Grant and Colfax/14th – back of the Capitol)
1:30 PM, State Capitol (200 E Colfax Ave – Colfax and Lincoln) (note: changed from flyer)
On April 27, 2015, the Colorado State House, Military and Veteran Affairs Committee of the State Legislature will be hearing HB 15-1264, known as the “Right to Rest Act.” This will be the second part of the hearing that began on April 15th, 2015. There will be further testimony on the bill, and then final votes from the committee.
This hearing is happening during the first National Convening on the Criminalization of Homelessness which is happening here in Denver April 26-28. Representatives from over 30 cities and over 20 states will be convening in Denver to join national join together our local struggles to end the criminalization of homelessness across the United States. These National Convening participants will be coming together to the Colorado Right to Rest Act Hearing and speaking about our nationwide work to decriminalize homelessness. Among these will be representatives from California and Oregon who have run the same Right to Rest Act together with us here in Colorado as a part of Western Regional Advocacy Project.
On April 15, 2015, Representatives Salazar and Melton introduced legislation to end the alarming trend of Colorado cities passing laws that criminalize the basic human and civil rights of people without housing who must live in public spaces. Testimony demonstrated the need for the Right to Rest Act to protect the basic human rights of all people to exist in public space- to move freely, rest, have privacy of one’s belongings, and eat in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle. Opposing testimony listed out services in Denver, such as shelters and day centers, without explaining why the existence of these services means that people should not have the right to exist in public space.Ultimately, even if there were enough “services” we still need to protect the essential human right of all people to exist in public. This bill is important because it regains the human rights that we should all equally share, regardless of how many services there are.
This bill will “allow people the right to rest without harassment from police and without ordinances that violate civil and constitutional rights…you better believe homeless people are being discriminated against. So many ordinances are being passed against homelessness that violate people’s rights, and this has become a statewide concern.” -Right to Rest Act Sponsor, Representative Salazar.
Denver and other cities in Colorado rank among the highest cost cities in the country for housing. There are not enough shelter beds or housing for low income people in many Colorado cities, leaving people to wander with few places to go.The recently released audit of Denver Road Home also highlights “the potential risks associated with Denver’s Unauthorized Camping Ordinance.” And states that “it is disconcerting to see that Denver’s homeless shelter situation has not significantly improved three years after the Ordinance was adopted.” Enacting the Right to Rest Act in Colorado will allow our state to take the lead in ending the counterproductive, costly, immoral and unjust practice of criminalizing people’s efforts to survive in public spaces when no other options are available to them.
Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL), as a member of Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), is leading the campaign for the Right to Rest Act in Colorado together with partner organizations across the state. In a coordinated campaign, California, Oregon, and Colorado are running the Right to Rest Act in their state legislatures this session.