While homes sit empty on every block and in every city, the houseless population here in Santa Cruz and across the nation is targeted by the police and prison industrial complex for merely existing. Sin Barras is fully behind the Homeless Bill of Rights and Fairness Act and will be sending in a letter of support. Here’s what you can do:
PHONE-IN DAY OF ACTION
MONDAY, APRIL 22nd
The bill’s first committee hearing is on Tuesday, April 23rd in Sacramento.
I’m calling in support of the Homeless Bill of Rights Act, AB 5 (Ammiano) which would protect people without homes from violations of their basic human rights and the people who serve them from penalties. It also resolves to reduce the impact of homelessness on communities and individuals by diverting investment from criminalization to stabilization efforts.
Throughout history, municipalities have used malicious and discriminatory laws to keep
particular people out of public spaces and the public consciousness. With poverty and
unemployment reaching record numbers in California, we have seen an upsurge of such laws, targeting mainly people without homes. Just like the discriminatory laws from the past, they deny people their right to exist in local communities.
I’m behind the Homeless Bill of Rights because it seeks to stop this growing injustice in our state and identify more sustainable and humane responses to homelessness.
Thank you for your time.
The following rights of homeless people are enumerated in the bill.
The right to:
• move freely in public spaces
• rest and sleep in public spaces
• have personal property in public space, and restitution for any property taken or destroyed
• share food in public spaces
• protection by law enforcement
• seek an income, including through recycling
• pray in public
• turn down offers of services based on one’s own judgment
• sleep in one’s car
• equal access to education for homeless schoolchildren and youth
• confidentiality in social service records.
The bill creates a right to sufficient health and hygiene centers available 24 hours, including bathrooms and showers.
The bill forbids law enforcement from enforcing laws that prohibit sleeping, sitting, lying down, standing, eating, panhandling, or sharing food in public spaces (or in one’s car in a public space) unless that area:
• offers General Assistance for twelve months out of the year
• and has an unemployment rate below 120% the Federal average
• and has a public housing waitlist of fewer than 50 people.
The bill gives people the right to counsel—provided by the county—whenever the District Attorney is present in court to prosecute. (Currently, this does not happen with infraction cases.)
The bill protects public employees from retaliation by their employer if they offer public resources to a homeless person.
The bill requires law enforcement agencies to compile every year the number of citations and arrests for laws that prohibit:
-“lodging” in public
-sleeping in public
-asking for donations
-bathing in public
-sharing or receiving food
-sleeping or living in a vehicle
-violating park closure laws
-other local or state laws as requested by the Attorney General, city attorney, or any non-profit that assists, reaches out to, or advocates for poor and homeless people.
The following rights are aspirational in the bill:
Right to shelter.
Right to basic services, housing, income, and medical care.
The right of homeless schoolchildren to be provided the supplies necessary for academic success (backpacks, textbooks, notebooks, pencils, pens, and appropriate academic technology.)