NORSE’S NOTES: Anyone in Santa Cruz interested in caravanning up to this event? Come to the Keith McHenry presentation on Saturday April 20th at the Sub Rosa, and we can organize one. Or give me a call at 831-423-4833.
State-wide Coalition converges on the Capitol on April 22 and 23 before Homeless Bill of Rights Hearing
Homeless communities, grassroots organizations, and advocates across the state join together to ensure the passage of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (AB 5)
Rally – North Steps of Capitol, April 22, 2:30 – 6 PM
Press Conference – North Steps Capitol, April 23, 7:30 or 8:15 AM
APRIL 12, 2013—Momentum for the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act is building steadily, with critical revisions to the proposed bill now complete and Judiciary Committee hearings scheduled for April 23rd. Hundreds of homeless rights activists from across California will rally in Sacramento on April 22nd
Assembly Bill 5 was introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). “This bill,” he says, “is really about basic justice. People who are Homeless not only have to struggle with life on the street, they often have the indignity of being treated like criminals because they have nowhere to eat, sit, or sleep except in public. My bill is not about privilege. It’s about making sure they are treated equally before the law. I’m proud to be standing with, and for, anyone seeking justice.”
In a Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) survey of 1,267 homeless people, 81% of participants reported that they were harassed by police for sleeping. In addition, 78% reported experiencing police harassment for sitting. Six hundred of these respondents were in California. Tickets for “status offenses” like sleeping or sitting often result in the arrest and imprisonment of homeless people.
With shelters filled to capacity and thousands of people on waiting lists for housing around the state, homeless people have no choice but to sleep, rest and eat in public places.Paula Lomazzi from Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee said, “These are basic rights that allow all people to stay alive—things most of us get to take for granted, but which remain a daily challenge for many of the poorest members of our communities.”
“Laws that segregate, that make criminals of people based on their status rather than their behavior, or that prohibit certain people’s right to be in public spaces are not just sad relics from the past, ” says Paul Boden, Organizing Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “The California Homeless Bill of Rights is a response that will protect homeless people from discrimination and ensure their right to exist. This is not about special rights – this is about equal rights.”
Last year, Rhode Island became the first state to pass a statewide homeless people’s bill of rights. Building on the community organizing that led to this success, social justiceorganizations around the country have been working on bills that aim to protect the rights of homeless people. While the states of Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut and Missouri have already had bills introduced, California’s Bill – co-sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, JERICHO: A Voice for Justice, and the East Bay Community law Center – is the first bill since Rhode Island’s to be heard in the state legislature. Judith Larson of Jericho said, “This is the essence of what Jericho was
Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee