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Connecticut Passes ‘Homeless Person’s Bill Of Rights’ Law

Connecticut Passes ‘Homeless Person’s Bill Of Rights’ Law

Written by Scott Keyes

Connecticut is on the cusp of enacting a major new law to protect people who are homeless from discrimination.

Last week, Connecticut lawmakers passed the “Homeless Person’s Bill Of Rights” at the literal 11th hour — 11:30pm on June 5th, one half hour before the legislative session ended. The bill, SB 896, a landmark piece of legislation to protect homeless individuals’ rights, adds homeless people as a protected class who can’t be discriminated against in employment, housing, or public accommodations. It also includes protections for homeless people to move freely in public spaces, such as parks and sidewalks, without being singled out for harassment by law enforcement officers.

Here are the bill’s seven protections:

(1) Move freely in public spaces, including on public sidewalks, in public parks, on public transportation and in public buildings without harassment or intimidation from law enforcement officers in the same manner as other persons;

(2) Have equal opportunities for employment;

(3) Receive emergency medical care;

(4) Register to vote and to vote;

(5) Have personal information protected;

(6) Have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property; and

(7) Receive equal treatment by state and municipal agencies.

This is no symbolic victory, Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, explained. “Homeless people are regularly discriminated against in employment and housing,” Stoops told ThinkProgress.

Nate Fox, Project Supervisor for Faces Of Homelessness Connecticut, a group that advocated for the bill, hailed its passage. “Currently, there are certain civil liberties that could be automatically wiped out when you walked into a homeless shelter,” Fox told ThinkProgress. This bill not only fixes that unintended side effect of shelters and other homeless services, it’s also “changed the conversation on how to protect homeless persons’ rights,” Fox said.

The bill now awaits Gov. Dan Malloy’s (D) signature before it can take effect at its scheduled date of October 1, 2013. It will not only play a major role in preventing discrimination against homeless people; it could also have an effect on municipalities like Hartford which currently have anti-loitering and anti-panhandling ordinances.

If it ultimately becomes law, Connecticut will become just the second state in the nation to enact a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights. Last year, Rhode Island became the first state to do so. Illinois could increase the number to three if Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs a bill which passed the legislature recently, and other states like Oregon and Delaware are considering similar legislation.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

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91 comments

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9:25PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

What aboiut my rights to not be harrassed, asked for money (i HAVE VERY LITTLE) this is why i have a job
I resent that I feel guilty when people ask me for money and I have no $$$$$$$ to spare. why are you more important than my family ???? which I work to supporrt. Get out of my face leave me alone

12:24PM PDT on Jun 23, 2013

Thank you, CONN! Maybe more states will follow suit. With the amount of people having lost their homes, this is important. You can't apply for a job or an apartment without giving an address of residence. That's a Catch-22.

4:05PM PDT on Jun 18, 2013

THANK YOU CONNECTICUT! The best news :)

2:46PM PDT on Jun 18, 2013

Finally! A law that is based on caring about people instead of money or "morals"!

10:14AM PDT on Jun 16, 2013

great, good for them

2:42AM PDT on Jun 16, 2013

Thanks for the news.

5:01PM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Bravo!

1:28PM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Thanks.

8:19AM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Progress.

6:35AM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

What alot of people don't realize, a lot of the homeless have jobs. They just don't have the money to get housing, especially in more expensive parts of the country. They live in cars or stay at shelters or pitch tents in the woods. I have seen this in my own family. Do you know that if you want a bed in a shelter, you have to line up about noon to even have a chance at a bed? That is the way it is in our area. If you are working, this could be impossible. Some shelters are more helpful, my oldest son once lived at a shelter in Louisianna while working for a roofing company. They kept a bed for him available and he paid them a portion of his pay for rent. He just didn't make enough for rent, for the deposit to get a rental, turn on electric, ect. People at the bottom of the economy often find themselves in this position. There are a large percentage of people who get SNAP who are also working. They serve you in fast food, and work in Walmart. They give far more than they get.

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