Human Rights

Homeless Rights Act Says Homeless Can Sleep Outdoors Without Arrest

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 11:58 AM

  • Renee Rendler-Kaplan / LA Weekly Flickr pool
Do homeless people have the right to sleep in their cars overnight, take up space on a sidewalk for extended periods of time, or access public restrooms?

In many cases, police have said no. Cops in L.A. have rousted the homeless for sleeping overnight on sidewalks, for example, leading to legal action by the ACLU:

And Venice's burgeoning RV-based homeless population has inspired new rules (parking restrictions), crackdowns and sweeps.

A new bill by California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano would codify new rules for how authorities can deal with people on the street. He calls it the "Homeless Bill of Rights Act."

The legislation, AB 5, today passed a key hurdle when the Assembly Judiciary Committee Tuesday gave it a thumbs up in a 7-2 vote.

It would appear to tie the hands of law enforcement bent on using bullshit laws -- loitering!? -- to rouse people hanging out in spaces controlled by the people.

According to the latest language in the proposal:

The bill would provide that every person has the right to access public property, possess personal property, access public restrooms, clean water, educational supplies, as specified, emergency and nonemergency health care, confidentiality of medical records, assistance of legal counsel in specified proceedings, and restitution, under specified circumstances. The bill would provide immunity from employer retaliation, to a public employee who provides assistance to a homeless person.

In other words, people can use the great, public outdoors without fear of being asked for a copy of their rent checks.


[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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