Updates on the California Homeless Bill of Rights (AB5)

NOTES BY NORSE:  Santa Cruz’s reactionary City Council is moving in the opposite direction–to remove basic human rights from homeless people and shuffle them out of sight.  A bill coming up on May 14th at City Council would make it illegal to linger or loiter on the median strips in the middle of roads, where you occasionally see homeless people with “Need Help” signs.  The upcoming Task Force on “Public Safety” is all about finding new ways to disappear homeless people, eliminate “illegal” camping (all sleeping on public property is “illegal” in Santa Cruz) and further enable police to expand their powers of harassment.  Right-wing media are belllowing the mythology that their community is the “magnet” for homeless people that “false compassion” “enables” homeless people by making it “easy” to live here.   In fact, there are 46 beds for less than 5% of the homeless population tonight here in Santa Cruz and a 4-6 week Waiting List.
Folks in public places face routine, unsolicited, and often brutal harassment.  Witness the now infamous video by Brent Adams   story at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_23092865/homeless-man-injured-during-arrest; video at  [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tyj3yxwy-o]

Homeless ‘bill of rights’ passes California Assembly committee

By SFBay   Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:58 EDT
Via SFBay. By Natalie Thomas
California’s homeless “bill of rights” is one step closer to a full vote after being passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, would allow homeless people in California to legally sit, sleep and ask for donations in public without the threat of being arrested or cited.
The bill would also allow homeless to reside in parks 24/7, regardless of their operating hours.
Ammiano explained the bill’s primary goal was to stop the criminalization of homelessness. Bill supporter and Coalition on Homelessness organizer Lisa Marie Alatorre told the SF Examiner:
“This bill calls for the immediate end of criminalizing homelessness. We need to stop allowing that to be our response to economic problems.”
The proposal lays out a “bill of rights” for people who are homeless including the right to:
“… move freely, rest, solicit donations, pray, meditate, or practice religion, and to eat, share, accept, or give food and water in public spaces without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions, harassment or arrest.”
If passed, the state would also be required to set up “health and hygiene centers” to provide showers and restrooms for the homeless 24 hours a day. Additionally, legal assistance must be available for anyone issued a citation for an activity related to their housing status.
While the state would foot the bill for these costs, the final price tag is still not known. Ammiano told the committee:
“Citations, arrests and jail time do not solve homelessness. They just route crucial public dollars that could be spent on housing to an already impacted court and corrections system.”
The new proposal would override San Francisco’s sit-lie ordinance passed in 2010 by voters. Sit-lie ordinances, though, would remain enforceable in cities that meet certain criteria, including having available public housing and have not been identified as “an area of concentrated unemployment.”
But sit-lie ordinances would be enforceable if strict criteria are met: the county provides adequate welfare assistance, the city isn’t identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as an area of concentrated unemployment, and the county’s public housing waiting list contains fewer than 50 people.
Assemblyman Donald Wagner, who voted against the bill Tuesday, told the committee:
“The homeless situation in San Francisco is going to be very much different from the homeless situation in Fresno, Los Angeles or central Orange County. By Sacramento passing this law, it doesn’t allow those cities to fix their own problems.”
While many local governments and business groups are in opposition of the bill, they’re probably thankful the current amended version of the bill no longer includes the controversial provision that would have legalized public urination by the homeless.
The legislation, passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a 7-2 vote, will now head to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

COMMENTS:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of homeless are not mentally ill or drug addicted. They are the most visible portion and get a lot of attention, but unemployment and poverty by far send more people into the streets than drugs and mental health issues.
  • As someone who deals with the homeless almost ever day I find this to be good news although I do not agree with the Bill entirely.
  • This is great for cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, but will not be beneficial to towns like Santa Cruz which has an inordinate amount of homeless that generally come from somewhere else and do not care about the small community.
    Nice going Sacramento.
  • Sounds expensive but it’s the right thing to do
    Not legalizing public urination was also the right thing to do
  • So proud of california…What you do for the least of these you do to me. All are my children………God
    If you have any doubt where liberalism is taking us…This is the money quote: “While many local governments and business groups are in opposition of the bill, they’re probably thankful the current amended version of the bill no longer includes the controversial provision that would have legalized public urination by the homeless.”
    First of all, why the discrimination against defecation? Are not all natural body secretions of equal cultural value?
    Don’t articles like this make Sharia look better and better?
    • Being homeless shouldn’t be a crime in the first place.
      • How about getting to the root of the problem, instead of allowing them to perform bodily functions in public? Statistics have, for a considerable time, shown that “homelessness is predominantly caused by mental illness and drug addiction. It is rarely just people out of a job. But just like the case of HIV, the politically correct crowd always wants John Q. Public to believe that he is at risk also. This is done to loosen up the purse strings.
        • I don’t know man, don’t you think the condition of homelessness is predominantly caused by not having a place to stay? As a college student of sound body and mind who has been homeless (sleeping in my car; you decide if it’s ‘homeless enough’) in the last 2 years, it really can happen to anyone. Leaving aside the fact that the defunding of residential facilities for the mentally unstable basically emptied them onto the street, there are plenty of housed people addicted to drugs too. If this were really a “driving” factor, everybody on alprazolam or prozac would be circling the drain, but the large proportion of them housed would lead me at least to surmise that this had more to do with gentrification and social inequality than crazies who can’t keep away from (still as inexpensive as ever) crack. I think that this bill is a lurch in the right direction, but significant change will be slow to occur unless we return to full-employment economics like we had before ’79 and have more significant intervention in the housing market.
          “…homelessness is predominantly caused by mental illness and drug addiction.” This is true in a great many cases, and generally speaking, such people need government assistance, often just to survive. It might not be a perfect bill, but its a positive step- as Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
    • thank you for providing the assclown’s perspective on this bill.
      • Thank you for having your head in a place where the light never shines. Someone actually proposed making urination in public OK? And you are in line with this? Hahaha!
      • There is a reason why San Fran is a magnet for the homeless. Study after study confirms what the cause of “homelessness” is for the vast majority. Do you think Cal can afford the Mental health and drug addiction rehab expenses?
      • He’s a long time troll.
        • A public urination advocate are we?
          Please get help.
    • I didn’t think the bill of rights made any differences to the poor or, certainly to plantation owners. If you build up the infrastructure it would properly take care of “public urination and

FOR MORE COMMENTS:  www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/25/homeless-bill-of-rights-passes-california-assembly-committee/

Andy:  I’m sending you these two articles which I think would be helpful for you to look over before interviewing me later today.  I also suggest you look at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/29/18736055.php?show_comments=1#18736111and the article  that precedes it.  It’ll  give you a broader and deeper perspective and will enable you to ask more probing questions.Robert  Norse

California Homeless Bill Of Rights Supercharges Incredible Hulkamania

by Carol  Harvey
Thursday May 2nd, 2013 1:58 PM

Angry Chamber of Commerce Man transmogrifies into Corporate Hulk roaring across the Web,“The Unhoused are rejecting attempts to disappear them and are claiming equal rights!”

 

On Google’s page 8, I stopped counting hundreds of articles covering California’s ‘Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act’ that cleared the State Assembly Judiciary Committee 7 to 2 on Apr. 23, 2013.

A West Coast consortium – Western Regional Advocacy Project, Western Center on Law and Poverty, East Bay Community Law Center, and JERICO: A Voice For Justice — co-sponsored AB 5 and worked with the Bill’s author, Assembly person Tom Ammiano who revised and updated California civil rights bills to protect the poor and unhoused from discrimination by economic status.

On Mon/ April 22, San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness activists bussed to Sacramento. They joined California and Oregon advocacy groups marching through Streets stirring up buzz about AB 5, then rallied on Capitol steps.

One formerly homeless marcher, Mike, confessed, “I feel like I want a house.”

He wanted to eat, too. “Do you think I can get both?” he asked, tongue satirically in cheek.

That’s asking way too much! [I played along.] Eating, too?!!

“Wait!” said Mike. “I lost my socks the other night!

Can’t you walk barefoot?

“I’m F*cked, huh?” he asked.

How do you feel about your human rights being violated?

Said Mike, “I feel like this is a story that keeps getting retold and retold, and nobody’s listening. I’m about ready to have them listen.”

I agreed. I’ve written about homelessness for 12 years, and it seemed we were going backward. But, AB 5 changed that. Mike would get his wish.

News coverage matched vitriolic reactions. The Bill’s call for homeless Californians’ equal rights finally got people to listen.

FuckFrance.com’s NaturalizedTexan snarked: “The bill was introduced by Tom Ammiano (D – duh!) of San Francisco (of course). “Referring to the proliferation of local ordinances cracking down on…sleeping on the sidewalk and crapping in flowerbeds, Ammiano lashed out at what he called ‘the criminalization of poor people.’

Homelessness forces the formerly and newly impoverished to accomplish in public spaces the private acts of eating, sitting, and lying down — seen as ‘unsightly’ by uneasy housed eyes. Western Regional Advocacy Project [WRAP] Exec. Dir., Paul Boden stated AB 5 encourages Californians to view these essential activities of daily living, when performed by citizens without housing, as equally necessary and lawful as those same life-sustaining acts they take for granted within four walls.

As the growing economic crisis with its foreclosures and job losses plunges Americans into ever-deepening poverty — exacerbated by the progressive defunding of affordable housing since 1983 — middle class Americans join unhoused neighbors on the streets. This may account for the growing demand for homeless equal rights. Said, Fago from Occupy Sacramento, “I’m getting tired of the criminalization of people that are just like everybody else. These are everyday people who have hit a hard spot in their life.”

Ibrahim Mubarak of ‘Right 2 Survive, Right 2 Dream Too’ in Portland asserted, “Evictions and foreclosures can cause anybody to be homeless. It’s not what they’re doing to themselves. It’s what the government is doing?”

In June 2012, New Hampshire Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law S-2052, the first Homeless Bill of Rights. Vermont, Connecticut and Missouri are following suit. Courtney from Portland’s Sisters Of The Road reported, “WRAP is helping us write our homeless Bill of Rights which we are hoping to submit next year.” Boden hopes for a nationwide effort.

A main thrust of the Bill, says Boden, is to prohibit the use of “local ordinances to make people disappear,” as if trying to put homeless people out of sight will put them out of the civic mind.

Indeed, legislation in California jurisdictions like San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto and Los Angeles criminalizes public panhandling and sitting, lying or sleeping. Business Improvement Districts – BIDs – hire private security to move sleepers out of doorways and force ‘indigents’ off commercial sidewalks. Because in some areas, feeding homeless people is illegal, AB 5 “forbids law enforcement from enforcing laws that prohibit public serving of food.”

Breitbart News [Thought he was dead] complained that California Assembly person Tom Ammiano offended delicate public sensibility by “guaranteeing [homeless people] the right to ‘access public property, possess personal property, access public restrooms, clean water…health care, confidentiality of medical records, assistance of legal counsel,,,, and restitution, under specified circumstances.’” Imagine that!

Breitbart The Undead bellyaches that the Bill prevents police arresting “vagrants.”

Mike in the gray baggy Eddie Bauer sweatshirt told the Sacramento assemblage he’d been homeless eight years in Fresno, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “The hardest part of being homeless is you have to do without the necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and water. Can you imagine getting up every day, not knowing where you’re going to eat, get water, get a shower?’ Do you know how hard it is to live outside in the cold, in the rain.” San Francisco cops woke him at 4:00 a.m. threatening tickets. Could Undead Breitbart’s clone survive without three squares, shower, and bed?

The bill gives homeless people the right, to “move freely” and “rest and sleep in public spaces without harassment or discrimination by police or BID agents. Mary told the crowd, “I was battered on the street by a person who was not homeless.” Under AB 5, she could have enjoyed law enforcement protection.

Another key focus is “to stop criminalization cost time — jail time, court time, police time,” said Boden.

Local laws require police to fritter hours ticketing and jailing the unhoused. Costly Court time is wasted issuing bench warrants.

Boden’s sure the Bill will save money. It “will free up staff time for police departments to ‘protect and serve’ [as] they’re supposed to.” “We won’t be spending all this time on petty stuff” like ‘that Dude that spent 30 days in jail recently for sitting on the sidewalk in [San Francisco’s] Tenderloin.”

One big expense will be creating 24-hour neighborhood hygiene centers with bathrooms and showers where people can stay clean, rested and healthy. San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness organizer Lisa Marie Alatorre asserts these centers “are just one tiny step that moves us towards improving public health by setting a standard of care” for the whole community.

Another cost will be the mandate to law enforcement agencies to report data annually to the Attorney General on their enforcement of local ordinances against homeless persons to guard against discriminatory implementation.

On May 8, AB 5 comes before the Appropriations Committee. Then, the full Assembly will vote. Alatorre speculates the Bill may be in ‘Suspense’ for a year while the Finance Committee analyzes costs, and negotiations are conducted with law enforcement and commercial-corporate opposition whose internet shills shriek on the web.

As AB 5 advances, Boden sees intensifying resistance. Writes Breitbart, “The California Chamber of Commerce, (you know, people that actually work for a living) immediately labeled the bill a ‘job killer.’” The Apartment Association of California joins 49 opposing entities along with The League of California Cities like Bellflower, Cypress, and Signal Hill.

Ninety organizations actively support the Bill.

Declared Ibrahim Mubarak, “This is not a City or statewide thing. This is nationwide. Every homeless person is tired of being harassed! They’re tired of getting woke up. They’re tired of getting criminalized! They need to step up for their rights — Now!”

TO SEE VIDEO GO TO: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/05/02/18736269.php

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