The right to occupy a legally parked vehicle. The right to serve food and eat food in public. The right to legal counsel. The right to have access to facilities where one can clean themselves 24 hours a day. The right to offer into evidence situational circumstances related to prosecution. The right to simply exist: to move freely, to sit, to sleep, and to pray in spaces defined as public spaces without discrimination, persecution, or prosecution. These seem like rights that we already have access to: however, for many individuals within our communities these rights are denied to them, and only to them, because of their socioeconomic status. Changing this reality is what the Homeless Bill of Rights is fighting for.
What originally started off as one cohesive, all-encompassing legislative push for equality across the varied strata of Californian and Oregonian society has been broken up into smaller, more targeted pieces of legislation: three, to be exact.
The first bill, and the only one to be fully crafted at this point, is The Right to Rest Act. This bill is a priority for both Oregon and California in the upcoming legislative session that begins in January 2015. The Oregon Legislative Council Office has already introduced their version of this bill. Colorado and Washington State are also talking about possibly beginning a similar process.
The second and third bills will specifically address The Right to Appropriate Legal Representation and The Right to Hygiene Facilities. Illinois, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have already passed their own versions of a Homeless Bill of Rights, with many others beginning the conversations about crafting their own.
The BOSS Community Organizing Team (COT) is working with Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP, https://wraphome.org), to ensure that constitutionally guaranteed rights are equally applied to all individuals. There will be a push this coming legislative year for additional outreach, obtaining endorsers for the Bill, and mobilizing for at least one Day of Action, and a Lobby Day in Sacramento, possibly more than one of each. If you are interested in being part of this historic and important initiative, please contact Gwen Austin, BOSS Community Organizer (and Development Associate), at (510) 649-1930 x 223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to update the process as it develops so stay tuned!