Rhode Island May Be First State to Give Rights to Homeless

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.

If the bill does become law (the General Assembly has yet to vote on it), it will affect more than 4,400 homeless people in Rhode Island.


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Photo credit: Deadly Sirius


Elaine K.
Elaine K5 years ago

Cheri Honkala vice presidential candidate was homeless ditto her sister and her spouse and many other families. Dennis Kucinich who was trying for the presidential nomination in 2008 was homeless as a child along with his family. There are lots of homeless people that do not want to be homeless including many children. Many sleep in public places because they have no place else to go. I remember 25 /- years ago walking thru a train station at night in NY where the benches were full of people sleeping and so was the floor. It was hard to avoid stepping on somebody there were so many people. The Green Party wants to end homelessness but unfortunately they do not seem to have much public support.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

Noted : (

Wanda Russell
Wanda Russell5 years ago

Kudos Rhode Island and many thanks and appreciation.

Joy Wong
Joy Wong5 years ago

Well done, Rhode Island.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

i hope it passes

Shawn O' Malley
Shawn O' Malley5 years ago

Vote Romney GOP and homelessness will be a crime. The homeless will be forced intom workcamps for private "for profit" prisons for the Corporations. Poverty will also be a criminal offense if a Repugliscum Romnney is elected.

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago

You have to have a home to have rights? Oh dear!

Dijana D.
Dijana D5 years ago

oh this is so great! i hope it does pass. but i do agree that this shouldnt even be an issue, a person should not lose rights just because they become homeless

timothy m.
timothy m5 years ago

Debbie B is ashamed, but I'm proud to be a citizen of Denver, a city which is actually trying to take back our downtown from vagrants camping out in it. Right on, Denver City Council!

(By the way, Debbie, it's counCIL, not counSEL.)