Target: Jerry Brown, Governor of California
Goal: Protect the homeless from an increasing number of city ordinances criminalizing elements of homelessness.
A ‘Right to Rest’ Act, which would protect the homeless from increasing city ordinances criminalizing elements of homelessness, has been introduced to the California Senate. The bill, introduced by Senator Carol Liu, would serve as a bill of rights for homeless people and the organizations that help them. If signed into law, the bill would protect over 100,000 homeless people residing in the state.
The bill would give homeless people a legal right to use public space to rest, eat, and keep out of the elements without discrimination from police or owners of nearby businesses. It would stop municipalities from handing down citations and jail time to the homeless for “life-sustaining activities,” such as sleeping, panhandling, and food sharing. Finally, the bill would protect the right to occupy a legally parked car, protecting those who live out of their vehicles from arrest and having their cars impounded.
Such a law would effectively nullify city bylaws aimed at pushing homelessness out of the public eye, including laws against sleeping in parks and downtown areas. Laws forcing panhandlers off of busy streets would be struck down, as would any law limiting charitable organizations’ abilities to feed the needy in public streets. While some of these laws may sound absurd, they are becoming quite common not only in California, but throughout the country.
Rather than spending resources on arresting and incarcerating the homeless, these areas should address the root of the issue and work on reducing poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment. Sign the petition below to show your support for a law protecting the rights of some of America’s most vulnerable people, the homeless.
Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
A bill aimed at protecting the rights of the homeless has been introduced to the California Senate. If signed into law, it would nullify an increasing number of city bylaws that criminalize elements of homelessness, including sleeping in public or panhandling on busy streets. The law would protect the homeless from citation and arrest, punishments which can often add to the burden of poverty, for breaching these city bylaws.
Areas attempting to outlaw panhandling, food sharing, and public sleeping should instead direct their resources to helping the homeless find food, shelter, and employment. We, the undersigned, support this initiative to protect the homeless from discrimination, and ask that you support it as well.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: David Shankbone via Creative Commons