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Delaware Introduces a Homeless Bill of Rights

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Policy Advocacy, Public Education

Delaware Introduces a Homeless Bill of Rights – by Kristin Howard, NCH Intern

Delaware, nicknamed the First State, may soon be the fourth state to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. Introduced in the House on June 3, 2014 by primary sponsor Representative Stephanie Bolden, the Bill’s chief objective is to ensure that people experiencing homelessness receive the same rights and privileges as everyone else. They should not be on the receiving end of discriminatory, disparate treatment simply because they are without a home. While equality is the overall goal, the Bill is comprehensive; it enumerates certain rights that the homeless should never be denied.

These enumerated rights address temporary shelters, public spaces, and other fundamental rights that the rest of the population is regularly afforded. Under this Bill, the homeless will have the ability to move freely in public spaces without harassment and will have protection against discrimination based on current housing status when either dealing with government officials and agencies, such as police officials, or when seeking employment and permanent housing. Furthermore, when accessing temporary shelter, discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, national origin, or housing status will be prohibited. And while residing in these temporary shelters, individuals are further entitled to a reasonable right to privacy with regards to their personal possessions, along with protection from unlawful disclosure of records and private information. Additionally, the fundamental right to vote cannot be denied to the homeless population for lack of permanent address; a park or temporary shelter may be utilized for registration purposes. Lastly, emergency medical care must be provided and cannot be withheld due to housing status.

Delaware’s Homeless Bill of Rights, which is currently pending in the Housing and Community Affairs Committee, amends Title 6 by adding Chapter 78. It will provide the basic legal and civil protections that never should have been denied in the first place.

Guest Post: The Real Meaning of PRIDE

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, LGBTQ, Youth

The Real Meaning of PRIDE by Frank McAlpin

Homeless Youth are OUR Youth
 
As we, in Los Angeles prepare for one of the largest and most spectacular Gay Pride Parades in the nation there is much to be proud of. We are experiencing unprecedented progress in the LGBT rights movement. From the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country, to the acceptance of openly gay professional athletes, to greater visibility and inclusion of LGBT folks in media and politics. Yes, there is much to celebrate! 
 
Yet with all this GAY excitement and celebration we can’t overlook the hundreds of young people sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles every night. It is estimated that in the US a half a million youth are homeless, about 40 percent of these youth identify as LGBTQ. And it is believed that Los Angeles is home to the most young people in country experiencing homelessness. 
 
There are numerous reasons as to why youth become homeless such as: abuse, neglect, poverty and homophobia. Often times LGBTQ youth are not physically or emotionally safe in their homes and communities, due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. They leave home in search of a more affirming and supportive space to be who they are. 
 
For whatever reason youth become homeless, their daily reality is almost impossible to imagine. It is a reality of constant hunger and exhaustion. Of violence and exploitation. Of rejection and stigma. For many homeless youth each day is just about survival. The realities that homeless youth experience 
impact every facet of their life, including employment prospects, education and physical and mental health. 
 
When trying to imagine these realities I can’t help but think, what kind of community allows young people, some already marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to be homeless? To have no safe and supportive space to live and grow into the beautiful individuals they are? 
 
Our collective acceptance of youth homelessness in OUR community is not something we can be proud of. It is an injustice so horrific it diminishes our entire community. And its existence overshadows the very equality the LGBT rights movement is achieving today. 
 
These homeless youth, many of whom identify as LGBTQ, are our youth. We, as an LGBT community and more broadly as a nation, must care for these youth. We must recognize them. Talk with them. Fight for them. For these young people represent all that is beautiful and possible in our community. They are our 
future. 
 
Youth experiencing homelessness, LGBT or not, want the same things we all want. To be safe, respected, supported and loved. And isn’t that what Pride is really all about? 
 
So as we gather in West Hollywood this June to throw glitter and celebrate our Pride, let us also commit to ending youth homelessness. Let us ensure that all homeless youth feel safe, respected, supported and loved. And that we all come to know the true meaning of PRIDE. 
 
Frank McAlpin, social worker and homeless youth advocate 
@FrankMcTalk

48 Hours on 48 Cents

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Education

Our Homeless Challenge Project helps people experience the realities of homelessness by dressing down, emptying their pockets, and living on the streets for 48 hours with an experienced NCH guide. Participants see the world through the eyes of a homeless person and meet others who are currently experiencing homelessness. One student from Colorado State University recently shared her experiences with us.

48 Hours on 48 Cents by Taylorae DeWitt

Contact the author here.

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