Could Follow Rhode Island’s lead in Enacting Landmark Legislation
California has followed Rhode Island’s lead and proposed a “Homeless Bill or Rights.” Rhode Island’s “Bill of Rights” was passed in June 2012. The California legislation would protect residents from discrimination based on their status of being homeless. Governing posted an article about the legislation on January 4, 2013.
“The measure is sure to be controversial in cities such as Sacramento, which has battled for years over “tent cities” for homeless people, and San Francisco, where voters passed an ordinance barring sitting or lying on sidewalks.” It would legally protect people “engaging in life-sustaining activities on public property. Among other activities, it specifically mentions sleeping, congregating, panhandling, urinating and ‘collecting and possessing goods for recycling, even if those goods contain alcoholic residue.’”
The proposed legislation has sparked debate in cities across the state about homelessness, the reasons for why people become homeless, and the rights of the homeless vs. the housed population.