Dozens of homeless individuals, organizers, and advocates were on hand on April 23 as the Homeless Bill of Rights and Fairness Act (also known as Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5) passed out of the Judiciary Committee of the California State Assembly with at 7-2 vote.
LA CAN sent a delegation up the Sacramento to make sure the voices of Skid Row residents were heard on this important legislation. Amongst other things, the Homeless Bill of Rights would protect homeless people’s right to use public space and engage in life-sustaining activities such as sleeping and resting. It would also create hygiene centers for people who don’t have access to bathroom or basic hygiene needs and protect homeless peoples’ right to personal property and belongings.
However, contrary to many reports (including the ABC 7 clip posted above), AB 5 would not permit anyone, homeless or not, to harass people on the streets or maliciously block sidewalks. Nor would it allow people to urinate and defecate publicly or allow homeless people to harm or interfere with local businesses’ operations.
AB 5 is not about creating special rights. Rather, it is about ensuring equal rights for homeless individuals.
The successful Judiciary Committee vote marked a win for a growing movement. However, we still have a lot of work ahead. AB 5 now heads to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, and then, hopefully, to the full assembly by late Spring/early Summer. For more information or to get involved, visit wraphome.org.
Coverage of the Judiciary Committee Vote on AB5:
Associated Press – “Bill says homeless have right to be on the street“
LA Weekly – “Homeless rights Act Says Homeless Can Sleep Outdoors Without Arrest“
Sacramento Bee – “Updated homeless ‘bill of rights’ passes CA legislative committee“
San Francisco Examiner – “S.F. lawmaker’s ‘homeless bill of rights’ passes state Assembly committee“
San Francisco Gate – “Scaled-down homeless rights law advances“