It is without question that homeless persons suffer and incur discrimination, hardships, burdens and the deprivation of constitutionally protected rights solely because of their status as being without a home. These discriminations, hardships, burdens and deprivations of rights are not imposed on persons who have a home. It is for these reasons that the state of Rhode Island has enacted its own Homeless Bill of Rights of which the California Bill is patterned after.
"A recent report by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness blasted the national wave of out-of-sight-out-of-mind laws affecting many of the country's roughly 643,000 street folk: "Criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties."
—By Erica Eichelberger Mother Jones
Just as persons of a specific race, religious creed, color, national origin, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, sex, age, sexual orientation, etc.. required legislation to obtain equal rights and equal protections to that of the greater society, it is necessary to enact legislation specifically identifying homeless persons as having equal rights to persons who have homes and that of the greater society.
This bill of rights prohibits police, healthcare workers, landlords or employers from treating homeless people unfairly because of their housing status.
If you believe that homeless persons should have equal rights to persons who have homes and that of the greater society please sign this petition which will provide equal rights to homeless persons by enacting legislation, the "HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS."
This petition is not requiring that the specific legislation being proposed here be enacted by members of the California Legislature, but that either this specific legislation be enacted or something very similar to it ensuring that homeless people are not deprived of the rights and privileges that all other citizens receive simply because of their housing status.
This bill of rights is not asking for or granting special or extra rights not granted to any other person or group of persons, it is asking and requiring that the state enforce homeless persons' existing rights guaranteed by the California and U.S. Constitutions by specifically identifying homeless persons as having those rights.
Presently, homeless persons who are discriminated against and suffer damages lack the financial resources and other means to affect relief of the losses incurred as a result of discrimination due to their housing status.
This bill will send a message that discrimination against the homeless is illegal, and gives homeless people a way to ensure their rights are protected and a means to provide relief of damages incurred.
More information at: http://cchbr.weebly.com/
Homeless persons are routinely discriminated against by numerous entities in our state depriving them of their Constitutional Rights. We the undersigned find it necessary that legislation should be passed to protect homeless people from the abuses visited upon them. We the undersigned request that you enact the following “California Homeless Bill of Rights” as framed below or in the alternative a “Homeless Bill of Rights” that will ensure that homeless people will no longer be deprived of the rights and privileges that all other California citizens receive.
An act to add Chapter 10 Section 13000 to the Government Code within PART 2.8. DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING relating to homeless persons and housing status.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Homeless Bill of Rights.”
Legislative intent. –
(1) At the present time, many persons have been rendered homeless as a result of economic hardship, a severe shortage of safe, affordable housing, and a shrinking social safety net.
(2) Article 1, Section 1 of the California State Constitution states in part,
“All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”
(3) All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens.
(4) Article 1 SEC. 7. (a) of the California State Constitution states in part, “A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws;”
(5) Concordant with this fundamental belief, no person should suffer unnecessarily or be subject to unfair discrimination based on their homeless status. It is the intent of this act to ameliorate the adverse effects visited upon individuals and our communities when the state’s residents lack a home.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. CHAPTER 10 Section 13000 is added to PART 2.8. DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING of the Government Code to read:
CHAPTER 10. HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS
SECTION 13000. (a) The People of the State of California find and declare
all of the following:
(1) In the State of California hereinafter referred to as the state, many people are denied:
(A) Housing due to their housing status of being homeless, living in a shelter, a vehicle, the street and or the public domain;
(B) Employment due to their current housing status of being homeless, living in a shelter, a vehicle, the street and or the public domain;
(C) Housing and Employment and as a result of not having a fixed or residential mailing address or having a post office box as a mailing address;
(D) Equal protection of the laws and Due Process by law enforcement and prosecuting agencies;
(E) The ability to make certain purchases or enter certain contests as a result of not having a fixed or residential mailing address or having a post office box as a mailing addres.
(2) Homeless persons are unfairly targeted by law enforcement often resulting in the violation of the homeless persons’ Constitutional Rights. Lacking the resources homeless persons are often denied relief of damages through the courts.
(3) Homeless persons are forced to flee specific districts due to local legislation that places burdens upon the homeless, burdens that are not incurred by housed residents. This segregation is contrary to the United States Constitution and the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka - 347 U.S. 483 (1954). These segregation policies unfairly subject municipalities to an increased burden of caring for the homeless who have migrated there from their chosen home municipality in relief of the oppressive legislation. These practices tend unjustly to condemn large groups of inhabitants to dwell in segregated districts or under depressed living conditions which results in crowded, unsanitary, substandard, and unhealthful accommodations. These conditions breed intergroup tension as well as vice, disease, and crime; endanger the public health; jeopardize the public safety, general welfare and good order of the district and municipality accommodating refugee homeless which results in substantial burdens on the public revenues of those districts forced to accommodate the refugee homeless due to the neighboring districts’ and municipalities’ vexatious, oppressive and burdensome ordinances that affect the homeless without affecting the housed which is innately discriminatory.
(4) Homeless persons are often provided accommodations and shelter by private and or public service providers that jeopardize their health, physical and mental safety.
(b) Bill of Rights
No person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is homeless. Such a person shall be granted the same rights and privileges as any other resident of this state.
A Homeless Person:
(1) Has the right to use and move freely in public spaces, including but not limited to public sidewalks, public parks, public transportation, public streets and public buildings, in the same manner as any other person, and without discrimination on the basis of his or her housing status;
(2) Has the right to equal treatment by all law enforcement agencies, without discrimination on the basis of housing status, including the right to be free from searches or detention based upon his or her actual or perceived housing status;
(3) Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to his or her condition of being homeless;
(4) Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter, or his or her mailing address being that of a post office box or social service provider;
(5) Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining housing due to his or her condition of being homeless;
(6) Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining housing due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter, or his or her mailing address being that of a post office box or social service provider;
(7) Has the right to rent and use United States post office boxes;
(8) Has the right not to be subject to criminal sanctions for resting or sleeping in a public place including vehicles legally parked on public property in a non-obstructive manner;
(9) Has the right not to be subject to criminal sanctions for refusing to enter a public or private shelter or other accommodation;
(10) Has the right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on his or her housing status;
(11) Has the right to vote, register to vote, and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to his or her housing status;
(12) Has the right to protection from disclosure to law enforcement agencies without appropriate legal authority his or her records and information provided to homeless shelters and service providers; and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with all limitations on disclosure established by the federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the federal Violence Against Women Act;
(13) Has the right to confidentiality of personal records of housing status and to protection from disclosure to Landlords and Employers housing status;
(14) Has the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property including that of a vehicle to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.
(15) Has the right to own and occupy a vehicle for twenty-four (24) hours a day seven (7) days a week while parked on public streets and public parking lots for the purpose of shelter.
(16) Has the right of make purchases of goods and services and or enter contests from any and all businesses operating in California.
(17) Has the right to equal protection of the laws and due process of the law by law enforcement and prosecuting agencies;
(18) Has the right to restitution.
(A) It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all persons who suffer losses as a result of being homeless shall have the right to seek and secure restitution from the person or persons who cause the losses they suffer.
(B) Restitution shall be ordered from the wrongdoers in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a homeless victim suffers a loss.
(C) All monetary payments, monies, and property collected from any person who has been ordered to make restitution shall be first applied to pay the amounts ordered as restitution to the homeless victim.
(c) Damages and attorney’s fees.
(1) A homeless victim, the retained attorney of a homeless victim, a lawful representative of the homeless victim, or the prosecuting attorney upon request of the homeless victim, may enforce the rights enumerated in subdivision (b) in any trial or appellate court with jurisdiction over the case as a matter of right. The court shall act promptly on such a request.
(2) In any civil action alleging a violation of this section, the court may award appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief, actual damages, compensatory damages, general damages, special damages, punitive damages, exemplary damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to a prevailing plaintiff.
(d) All rights, privileges, policies and remedies granted to persons of race, religious creed, color national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation as provided in PART 2.8. DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING Sections 12900 through 12966 of the California Government Code and Section 51 of the California Civil Code shall be granted to homeless persons and those persons of any housing status.
(e) As used in this section:
(1) “Housing status” means the status of having or not having a fixed or regular residence, including the status of living on the streets or in a vehicle or in a homeless shelter or similar temporary residence or elsewhere in the public domain.
(2) “Homeless” means any person who does not have a fixed or regular residence including a person who lives on the streets, or in a vehicle or in a homeless shelter or similar temporary residence or elsewhere in the public domain.
(3) “Habitation” means that place which a person spends the majority of ones time and existence.
(4) “Losses” means but is not limited to any deprivation of constitutionally held rights as well as the loss of property or physical and mental well being.
(5) “Damages” means to include losses but is not limited to losses.
This act shall take effect upon passage.