The Right to Rest Campaign is defending the human rights of homeless people by supporting legislation in California, Colorado and Oregon to decriminalize homelessness. These Bills would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat, and perform religious observations in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle.
George Kelling was well aware that his “Broken Windows” policy could lend the force of the police to the enforcement of prejudice. Kelling utilized a real-estate metaphor to provide justification for discriminatory law enforcement, directed at poor and homeless people and aimed at “quality of life” crimes.
On August 6th, 2015 the DOJ released a statement of interest expressing opposition to the criminalization of homelessness in a Boise, ID anti-camping case. More recently, HUD released its guidelines for “Continuum of Care” consortiums vying for a share of the $1.9 billion in homelessness assistance funding. They will now require applicants explain how their communities are combatting the criminalization of homelessness and giving preference to applicants who provide evidence of their policies. The actions of these two federal agencies are especially welcome at a time when more and more laws criminalizing homeless people’s right to exist in public spaces are being passed every day throughout the country.
Grossman offers a frank opinion of why BIDs aim to move homeless people out of business districts. “It’s a customer service district. They don’t see the homeless people as customers... If they don’t see you as a customer you are in trouble... You are either a customer or a contagion.”
Advocates for the Right to Rest converged on San Francisco on July 31, 2015 to organize for the passage of a homeless bill of rights in California, Oregon and Colorado. The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) convened the actions and meetings with representation from San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Denver, Fort Collins, Portland, Eugene and other west coast cities. More photos and videos at: www.boonachepresents.com/
The last Homeless Census reported that people living in vehicles was one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless community. “Our research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of people whose primary residence is a motor home or RV,” said Peter Connery of Applied Survey Research.
On May 13, 2015, the California Assembly Committee on Local Government voted 7-1 to approve AB 718 which: “Prohibits a city, county, or city and county from prohibiting or otherwise subjecting to civil or criminal penalties the act of sleeping or resting in a lawfully parked motor vehicle.”
Local ordinances make it illegal for a person to rest or sleep in their own private vehicle, even if otherwise lawfully parked on a public way within a local jurisdiction. In point of fact, the 2013 Homeless Census and Survey reported that people living in vehicles was one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless community.
Proponents of the Right to Rest bill — including a busload of advocates of homeless people from San Francisco and Oakland — turned out in great numbers. Supporters outnumbered opposition lobbyists from business alliances and city governments by 6 to 1 during legislative hearings in Sacramento.
Homeless , anti-poverty, and civil rights advocacy groups will keep working throughout the rest of the 2015-2016 legislative session to pass a bill aimed at stopping the growing criminalization of people who are homeless.
“Shame!” “Shame!” cried a man in the back of the Capitol’s largest, packed committee room. The vote was not yet tallied, but it was clear: The Homeless Bill of Rights was failing. A sergeant-at-arms escorted the man from the room. Other protestors replaced him.
Activists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and across the state of California trekked to Sacramento on April 7, 2015 to lobby for the “Right to Rest. They are part of the growing movement aimed at ending the criminalization of homeless people and stopping police profiling and harassment of all people in public places.