Target: California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
Goal: Protect the rights of homeless people and outlaw discrimination based on housing status.
California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano recently introduced a bill to stop discrimination against homeless people and to better defend them. The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act is legislation that homeless advocates have been waiting for, a bill that would help to stop discrimination against homeless people. California’s cities have some of the highest homeless populations in the nation. The bill is a huge step to protect the most vulnerable members of the community.
The homeless bill is similar to one which Rhode Island passed last year when it became the first state to prohibit discrimination against homeless people. The bill would give every person in the state the right to move freely and use and rest in public spaces, regardless of housing status. The bill would also give people the right to occupy vehicles for use as shelter. Legal representation for people cited under laws which are targeted towards the homeless would be required under the new bill. As of now, a public defender is not required for those laws. Many homeless people are not aware of court dates and have difficulty appearing which leads to the misdemeanors becoming more serious. The law would be critical to have an advocate for homeless cited under those specific laws and might make law enforcement more careful when giving out those citations. The goal of the bill is to have the right to equal treatment by state and local governments and to ensure the right to public space for the homeless.
A critical part of the bill is the part against discrimination, meaning any sit/lie laws not applied to the entire public would be illegal. As more people in the country are becoming homeless, more cities are passing laws against sitting and lying on sidewalks. Berkeley, California is the only city to vote down a sit/lie law. The laws are discriminatory towards the people most in need in the country. People do not want to see homeless people on the streets because it makes the poverty in the country a reality. The sit/lie laws try to make homeless people even more invisible. Banning homeless people from sidewalks doesn’t solve the larger problems of poverty and homelessness. The focus needs to shift to how to solve homelessness and get people in homes. This bill works to stop the discrimination against homeless people and to weaken laws like sit/lie laws that target homeless people.
It is time to address the discrimination against homeless people and stop them. Sign the petition to show your support of the bill defending homeless people in California.
Dear Assemblyman Ammiano,
A discriminatory movement against our most vulnerable citizens is currently sweeping the nation. Across the country, cities are passing sit/lie laws that make it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks–in other words, laws that target homeless people. These laws are not helping to solve the problem of poverty and homelessness but rather trying to move it out of the public’s sight. These laws are morally wrong.
The Homeless People’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act is a great step towards ending discrimination against homeless people in California. The law not only works to stop discrimination against homeless people but it also requires much needed legal representation for those cited under laws like the sit/lie laws. Homeless advocates in California have been waiting for a law like this for a long time, now is the time to pass it.
I support the Homeless People’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act and urge California’s congress to pass it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Flickr