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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.

NEW REPORT: Discrimination in Washington, DC

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Civil Rights, Policy Advocacy, Report

Discrimination and Economic Profiling Report

Discrimination and Economic Profiling among the Homeless of Washington, DC is a new report documenting the extent to which homeless individuals in Washington, DC feel that they have experienced discrimination as a result of their housing status. In the fall of 2013, The National Coalition for the Homeless and graduate students of George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration created a survey to examine experiences of discrimination by housing agents, employers, health service providers, and law enforcement due to housing status.

Homeless individuals have long told staff at NCH that they perceive discrimination brought on by their housing status. In light of this, the National Coalition for the Homeless has been tracking discrimination against homeless individuals for years.

One homeless individual explains that homelessness can mean being turned away at the door of a “coffee shop … due to my attire, push cart, my extra bags.” This type of discrimination is typical in the life of a person experiencing homelessness.

This recent study revealed that discriminatory actions most often came from private business and law enforcement. Specially, 70% of the respondents felt they had been discriminated against by private business and 66 % of the respondents felt the same discrimination from law enforcement.

The National Coalition for the Homeless advocates for Washington, DC and other states to consider passing a Homeless Bill of Rights, which would guarantee equal treatment for people who are un-housed. This new law would not create special rights or privileges, but rather protect homeless people from discrimination while seeking employment, emergency medical care, and the right to move freely in public.

View the full report here!

New Hate Crimes report released

Written by admin on . Posted in Hate Crimes, Violence Against the Homeless

2012 Hate Crimes ReportSenseless Violence: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence against the Homeless in 2012 documents the known cases of violence against homeless individuals in 2012. The report includes descriptions of the cases as well as recommendations to help prevent violence against homeless individuals.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has been tracking hate crimes against homeless individuals since 1999. This year’s report only shows a slight improvement in the number of lethal attacks. In 2012 alone, of the 88 attacks, 18 resulted in deaths. A majority of the perpetrators this past year were young men under 30, and the victims were primarily males over the age of 40.

Some of the most horrific cases include a serial killer targeting the homeless population of southern California because he viewed it as a public service, teens killing a homeless man over one dollar, and a homeless woman set on fire who suffered second and third-degree burns over 20% of her body.

“This violence is prompted by a profound lack of empathy for fellow human beings, the same moral failure that allows our society to tolerate the larger tragedy of homelessness,” said Jerry Jones, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “Homeless people deserve our help and protection. These attacks are a shocking failure in our society’s obligations toward the most vulnerable among us.”

In many cases, homeless persons are targeted for these attacks simply because they are without housing. The National Coalition for the Homeless advocates for the inclusion of homelessness as a protected class in state and federal hate crimes legislation.

Read the full report.

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