- Free crap for everyone . . . don't worry, some other guy somewhere will pay the bill.
California law protects its residents from discrimination based on sex, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Now a state lawmaker is pushing to add another category to the list: homelessness.
New legislation titled the "Homeless Bill of Rights" by Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco is meant to keep communities from rousting people who have nowhere to turn.
The measure is sure to be controversial in cities such as Sacramento, which has battled for years over "tent cities" for homeless people, and San Francisco, where voters passed an ordinance barring sitting or lying on sidewalks.
Ammiano declined to comment to the Sacramento Bee on Thursday about the bill. His measure also would give homeless residents the right to sleep in cars that are legally parked, to receive funds through public welfare programs, to receive legal counsel when cited – even for infractions – and to possess personal property on public lands. Local officials could not force the homeless into shelters or social service programs..
The bill states that homeless Californians have the right to safe, affordable housing and 24-hour access to clean water and safe restrooms, but Paul Boden, a spokesman for one of its sponsors, said the measure is not meant to require cities and counties to add new facilities.
Boden and other advocates of AB5 say that existing laws to sweep the homeless from public view are similar to Jim Crow laws of decades ago in the segregated South, and to "anti-Okie" laws of the 1930s that prohibited bringing extremely poor people into California.
The measure "would require local governments to leave people in peace who are not committing crimes," said Boden, who describes his group as a collective of West Coast social justice organizations.
Boden said homeless people routinely tell him they have been harassed for sleeping, loitering or sitting down, and the bill's supporters maintain that constitutes an attack on basic civil rights.