SB 608, the #Right2Rest bill, is dead. But the goal of protecting the rights of homeless people is not – meet SB 876.
Part of the 2015 Homeless Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 608 had been written by advocates and activists to protect people without stable housing. After the bill died in committee, advocates and activists decided to revise the bill using what had been learned and discovered last year. They met with business persons and law enforcement personnel to understand their greatest concerns and tried to incorporate that information into the bill. But revision after revision left it in jeopardy: in California, when a bill crosses from one legislative session to another it has additional hurdles to passing. It is just easier, and cleaner, to scrap the original and start over. So that is what organizers did.
Meet SB 876. The new 2016 push for civil rights protections for people experiencing homelessness. California State Senator Carol Liu (D – La Cañada Flintridge) is a big advocate for the rights of homeless individuals. On January 14th she introduced this new bill, just as she did SB 608. SB 876 is far more succinct than the bill from last session as it addresses specifically, and only, the issues around the right of use, the right to rest, and the right to eat without being harassed based solely upon ones housing status.
Senator Liu stated “This bill is intended to ensure equal rights for the homeless. It’s time to address poverty, mental health, and the plight of the homeless head-on as a social issue and not a criminal issue. Citing the homeless for simply resting in a public space creates a criminal record that can lead to rejection for jobs, education loans, and housing and further block their pathway out of poverty.”
To stay up to date on the Right to Rest campaign and other civil rights issues, contact Gwen Austin, BOSS Community Builder & Development Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.wraphome.org.