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A Proposed Homeless Bill of Rights

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On Friday, Spectrum executive director, Mark Redmond testified on a Homeless Bill of Rights that will prohibit discrimination against people without a home. This bill was also up for review two years ago and did not pass.

“This supports basic rights that are due to every American citizen and there is nothing in here that is radical or outlandish,” said Mark in his testimony.

As the largest provider of services to homeless youth in the State, we hope that this time this committee votes in favor of H.492 and that it moves to the floor of the House for a vote. Every human being should be allowed their basic human rights and to go about their communities without discrimination, regardless of their housing status.

Learn more about the Bill of Rights by watching this coverage by NBC5.

The proposed Homeless Bill of Rights states:

A person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may not be denied or abridged solely because they are without housing or because of their housing status. Such a person shall be granted the same rights and privileges as any other resident of this State.

A person without housing will have the right:

  • to use and move freely in public spaces, including public sidewalks, parks, transportation, and buildings, in the same manner as any other person and without discrimination on the basis of their housing status.
  • to receive equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies without discrimination on the basis of housing status or homelessness.
  • to not face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment, due to their lack of permanent mailing address or their mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider.
  • to access emergency medical care free from discrimination based on their housing status or homelessness.
  • to vote, register to vote, and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting, without discrimination due to his or her housing or homelessness.
  • to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with all limitations on disclosure established by State and federal law, including the Federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Federal Violence 10 Against Women Act. In particular, victims of domestic and sexual violence 11 and stalking who are homeless have the right to safety and confidentiality. No identifying information pertaining to such victims shall be released without a written release unless the disclosure of the information is required by State or federal law or a court order.
  • to a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property.
  • to immediate and continued enrollment of his or her school-age children based on the best interests of the child as provided for in 16 V.S.A. § 1075(e) and the McKinney-Vento Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11431–11435.

No person shall be subject to civil or criminal sanctions for soliciting, sharing, accepting, or offering food, water, money, or other donations in public places.

No law shall target persons without housing or the harmless activities associated with homelessness, or the provision of supports or services to 6 persons without housing or perceived to be without housing in traditional public fora.

A person aggrieved by a violation of this section may bring an action in Superior Court for appropriate relief, including injunctive relief and actual damages sustained as a result of the violation, costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

 

 

Comments

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  1. Jessica R. Ponzio said

    I grew up in Vermont and moved back here in 2003. I was shocked by the homeless problem here sixteen years ago and I don’t really see that it has improved. Every winter we loose someone living on the streets here in Vermont and that is criminal negligence.

    This bill strikes me as legitimate, wholly reasonable, enforceable and (if anything) actually perhaps not quite far reaching enough, yet nevertheless a step in the right direction.

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