Advocates Push Homeless Bill Of Rights In California

Rhode Island blazed the trail in the fight to treat homeless people justly and now one Northern California town is following suit

Back in June, the country’s smallest state passed the first-ever Homeless Bill of Rights, which ensures that people living on the streets aren’t discriminated against. Just last week, the town council in Fairfax unanimously decided to push California to adopt similar legislation, Healdsburg Patch reports.

The bill of rights proposed in the Golden State will protect homeless peoples’ right to vote, move freely in public spaces, gain access to emergency medical care and seek employment, despite not having a permanent mailing address.

Councilman Larry Bragman, who supports the resolution, told the news outlet that he was “bothered” buy the fact that his state “recognizes homelessness as a given fact instead of addressing homelessness.”

These humanitarian bills come at a critical time, when homeless people are facing heightened restrictions.

Though it was eventually shot down last month, Philadelphia had aggressively tried to ban feeding people living on the streets. In Dallas, people have to register with the city before giving out food to the homeless and officials in Berkeley, Calif., have proposed a ban on sitting on sidewalks, according the Associated Press.

But bills for the homeless are about a lot more than where people without roofs over their heads can eat and sleep.

In Rhode Island, the legislation exemplifies that homeless people have the same rights as anyone else and that they can sue if they are discriminated against.

"Now we're a leader in something," said state Sen. John Tassoni, D-Smithfield. "Hopefully other states will now pick up the slack and move this all the way across the country to California."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to California as the "Sunshine State." The error has been corrected.