SB 608 Moves Forward in the State Legislature

BOSS Organizers Participate in State Lobby Day February 19, 2015

Thank you to State Senator Carol Liu for introducing SB 608, the Right to Rest Act, in the California legislature! A sponsoring author is what bill organizers have been pressing for, and now we can intensify public education and advocacy to pass this bill, which helps to protect the basic human and civil rights of people without homes. Contact your elected officials to express your support for this bill – find your assembly member or senator here.

On February 19, 2015, BOSS Community Organizer and Social Justice Advocate Gwen Austin accompanied organizers from other social justice organizations as part of a recent nonprofit-sponsored Lobby Day. Approximately 30 people from the East Bay converged onto the state capitol along with other Right2RestAct supporters seeking a legislative champion for the proposed statewide bill. The Right2Act is currently being introduced in Oregon and Colorado and the proposed state bill in California needs an author in order to be introduced to the California Assembly.

Picture from Nashville Homeless Organizing Coalition
Picture from Nashville Homeless Organizing Coalition

The Right2Act will protect the rights and prohibit the enforcement of any local laws that violate these rights (move freely, rest, sleep, pray, and be protected in public spaces without discrimination, as well as the right to occupy a legally parked vehicle and the right to share food and eat in public). The Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee worked with Western Regional Advocacy Project to help bring this bill to the state of California.

BOSS, a member organization of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) along with another member organization, St. Mary’s Center in Oakland, led by Janny Castillo, travelled together to the capitol in part to speak to state legislators about authoring and introducing the Right2Rest Act in the assembly in a direct response to change local laws that target and criminalize a select group of people and to be part of a press conference on a New Report on the Growing Criminalization of Homeless People in California by UC Berkeley’s Law Center’s Policy Advocacy Clinic where Clinical Professor of Law Director, Jeffrey Selbin and his research law students from the Policy Advocacy Clinic, Marina Fisher, Nathaniel Miller, and Lindsay Walter presented their findings.  Paul Boden, WRAP’s Organizing & Executive Director, and his staff were also present and spoke at the press conference about the importance of the bill.

Organizers met with legislators all day, including Senators Loni Hancock, Carol Liu, Ben Allen, Phil Ting and Toni Atkins; Assembly members Thurmond, Quirk, Bloom, Bonta, Bonilla and others. Organizers stressed the challenges homeless people face on the streets – tending to basic personal needs such as sitting, resting, or conversing with peers are too often met with harassment or punitive responses. SB 608 will help protect the right of people without homes to do these things!