Homelessness takes many things away from people: security, comfort and dignity, for starters. It also takes away rights that others take for granted. But Rhode Island is on its way to becoming the first state to change that.
According to the Rhode Island Employment Law Blog, the state senate passed a bill that would give homeless people some basic rights:
- The right to emergency medical care
- The right to be free from searches and detention
- The right to reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property
- The right to protection from disclosure to law enforcement agencies
- The right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to lack of a permanent mailing address
- The right to confidentiality of personal records and information
- The right not to be criminally sanctioned for unobtrusively sleeping in a public place
Note that these aren’t special rights. Local TV station WPRI reported that according to a co-author of the bill, “the proposal isn’t about giving the homeless new rights, but about ensuring they’re not treated any worse than anyone else.” All Americans are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property, for example. But homeless people are often treated more as a nuisance than as human beings.
Photo credit: Deadly Sirius