Rhode Island First State to Pass Homeless Bill of Rights

Monday, July 02, 2012
In contrast to many local governments that have tried to discourage the homeless from being in their communities, Rhode Island has decided to give them a “Bill of Rights.”
The state legislature and Governor Lincoln Chafee last week approved the new law—the first of its kind—establishing a “Homeless Bill of Rights.”
The statute prohibits cities and counties, as well as police, healthcare providers, landlords and businesses, from treating homeless people unfairly because of their housing status.
“Today, in Rhode Island, hatred, bigotry and discrimination is not accepted,” John Joyce, co-founder of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project and one of the authors of the new law, told the Associated Press.
The “Homeless Bill of Rights” will guarantee, among other things:
·         The right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to lack of a permanent mailing address or a mailing address that is a shelter or social service provider.
·         The right to use and move freely in public spaces (sidewalks, public parks, public transportation, public buildings) in the same manner as any other person and without discrimination on the basis of housing status.
·         The right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on housing status.
·         The right to vote, register to vote and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to housing status.
·         The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
RI Homeless Bill of Rights Praised as US Model (by David Klepper, Associated Press)
5,000 Homeless Americans Live in Tent Cities (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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