Archive for Western Regional Advocacy Project

Homeless Bill of Rights Days of Action THIS WEEKEND!

Posted in DTLA, Homeless Bill of Rights, Western Regional Advocacy Project with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2015 by Cangress


Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Eric Ares, 213.458.3909 |

Organizations Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with West Coast Days of Action in Support of Legislation Protecting the Civil Rights of Homeless People

What:     Parade and Sleep Out in celebration of the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign and Right 2 Rest Legislation
When:     1pm Sunday, January 18 – Monday January 19
Where:    Downtown Los Angeles
1pm Lunch/Parade begins at Gladys Park (6th and Gladys)
3pm – 6pm Pershing Square Speak Out and Outreach
7pm through Monday Morning – Sleep Out outside the Central City Association (626 Wilshire Blvd.)

Los Angeles – In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the weekend commemorating his contributions to the Civil Rights movement, members of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) are holding days of action in support of the civil and human rights of homeless people.  In Los Angeles, organizations from across the city will unite in Downtown Los Angeles for a parade and sleep out in celebration of the rights of ALL people to sit, rest, share food, and otherwise exist in public space.

“For years the City of LA and LAPD have basically made it illegal to be homeless,” said Sean Gregory, a houseless Downtown LA resident and organizer with the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign. “Public space is for all people, not just those with the privilege to have a roof over their head. Ticketing and arresting doesn’t solve homelessness. It only makes it worse.”

WRAP’s days of action will also highlight and push for the passage of our Right to Rest Act, which would help end the criminalization and incarceration of unhoused individuals and families. The proposed state legislation is a response to the growing trend of cities creating laws that make it illegal to sit, sleep, stand, and share food in public space.

“This bill is really about basic justice,” said Oregon State Senator Chip Shields, who will be introducing the Right to Rest Act this legislative session. “People who are homeless not only struggle with life on the street, they struggle with the indignity of being treated like criminals because they have nowhere to eat, sit, or sleep. This bill is about making sure everyone is treated humanely under the law.”

“We raise our voices this week to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and continue his work in fighting for the civil rights of the most marginalized in our society,” said Ibrahim Mubarak of Portland’s Right 2 Survive, one of the 130 organizations working actively on the Right to Rest campaign. “With shelters filled to capacity and thousands of people on waiting lists for housing around the state, homeless people have no choice but to live in public space. Cities cannot continue to act as if arresting people for that is going to solve the problem.”

In December, a federal judge suspended a Ft. Lauderdale law banning public food sharing after it received national attention when a 90-year old resident was arrested twice for serving meals to homeless individuals.  This past June, another federal court struck down an ordinance in Los Angeles banning people from sleeping in their vehicles—arguing that it discriminated against the poor.

“Recent court rulings have shown that these types of laws are not only immoral and unjust, but illegal,” said Eric Ares of the Los Angeles Community Action Network. “They do not stop crime, but rather punish people for being poor and homeless. Cities are not going to ticket their way out of homelessness. Housing is the only solution, but until then we must continue to protect the civil rights of all people.”

WRAP continues its fight to protect these civil rights for all. Rhode Island, Illinois and Connecticut have all passed Homeless Bill of Rights laws in recent years. In Oregon, State Representative Chip Shields (D-Portland) recently introduced Right to Rest legislation. The California state legislature is expected to introduce Right to Rest legislation in the coming weeks.

WRAP’s Right to Rest Days of Action are taking place in San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chico and several other cities. WRAP’s actions stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all other groups fighting unjust, violent law enforcement.

“Policymakers and elected officials can no longer use the police, discriminatory laws, and unjust enforcement as solutions to the problems that pervade our communities,” said Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. “They cannot ignore the calls for justice emanating from cities across the country.”



WRAP Op-Ed in SF Chronicle: “Change heartless rules to house homeless families”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 29, 2014 by Cangress

An Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle from our friend and ally Paul Boden over at the Western Regional Advocacy Project.

Change heartless rules to house homeless families
by Paul Boden

What kind of a mean, coldhearted, even sadistic homeless service provider would tell a family of three or four or five living in a single-room-occupancy hotel, or “illegally” sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment: “You aren’t homeless enough – you’re just poorly housed. Go sleep in the streets for a while. When you come back, you better be able to prove you are homeless.”

This would be the only kind of homeless service provider the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been willing to fund since 2009.

In fact, the agency is so serious about this that, in 2011, it put out a 105-page memo detailing for local communities how severe the penalties would be for providing any services with HUD money without thoroughly documenting the eligibility of any homeless family or youth. Fines would be incurred if agencies served those not designated as a priority for services by the ridiculous point-in-time head counts HUD requires communities to perform.

That is why Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, have introduced legislation in their respective legislative chambers to overturn these draconian rules. The bills would amend HUD’s definition of homelessness, a change that would allow approximately 900,000 homeless children and families nationwide to access federal assistance programs. Specifically, children living in motels and doubled-up in households with acquaintances would be recognized as homeless.

HUD is, by far, the largest funder of homeless services. Yet, HUD’s restrictive definition of homelessness has created a cruel and vicious cycle. Once families lose their homes, they scramble for any place to stay. If they sleep in a vehicle or remain on the streets, they risk being categorized as unfit parents and losing their children to public agencies.

Hoping to avoid that, families will stay with other people, often in unstable and unhealthy situations that render them ineligible for homeless assistance. And, if that isn’t coldhearted enough (and it is), HUD also applies these rules to unaccompanied youth as well.

Why this Scrooge-like approach? Because families and unaccompanied youth cost too much money, that’s why. HUD can house 25 single adults in hotel rooms for the same cost of housing three families or helping out seven unaccompanied youth. So single adults have become HUD’s primary business.

HUD and some of the national homeless groups are trying to sell everyone on the amazing success of their 10-year plans to end homelessness. Yes, their head count numbers have gone way down (through redefinition but not reality). And yes, thousands of single adult homeless people have been housed in hotel rooms.

So, when your measuring stick for success is fewer homeless heads on the streets and more people in hotel rooms, you really can’t be wasting money caring for people who aren’t visible or obviously homeless (but who, nevertheless, are neither safe nor providing a good place for their children).

The human math is pretty simple: In 2006, we had 600,000 homeless students in public schools nationwide. In 2009, we had 930,000 and in 2012, it was 1.168 million. Yet, that same year, only 247,178 homeless households were eligible to receive services through HUD homeless assistance programs.

Call it poorly housed or call it the invisible homeless. No matter what you call it, this is heartless public policy. Support Feinstein’s and Miller’s legislation to change it.

Paul Boden, who was once homeless, is the organizing director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. For updated information and to find out how to contact your elected representatives, go to

Slideshow of Photos from This Past Weekend’s Homeless Bill of Rights Action in Venice

Posted in art & culture, civic participation, civil rights, Homeless Bill of Rights, photos with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by Cangress

More photos and video coverage to come from this past weekend’s amazing celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in support of a California Homeless Bill of Rights.

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Video: California Homeless Bill of Rights Launch

Posted in video with tags , , on October 18, 2013 by Cangress

And Ya Don’t Stop!: Continuing the Fight Against the Criminalization of Our Communities

Posted in civil rights with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by Cangress

This week LA CAN members and allies continued our fight against the increasing criminalization of poor communities of color throughout the City of Los Angeles.




On Saturday, over a dozen community organizations convened to launch the California Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign (see photos above). After an overview of the campaign goals, those in attendance broke out into small groups to outline campaign strategies and create an action plan for the next few months. The campaign will be a long and hard fight, but when the event ended it was clear that organizations in Southern California are committed to organizing to protect and uplift the Human Rights of Homeless individuals throughout California and beyond!

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On Tuesday, LA CAN continued a busy week of Anti-Criminalization actions at both the LAPD Commission and the LA County Board of Supervisors.  At the Board of Commissioners, LA CAN members were on hand to let the newly appointed Commissioners know that while the Board has changed, the devastating impact of LAPD’s Safer Cities Initiative has not. We demanded a new commitment to dialogue as well as a Town Hall specifically on the Safter Cities Initiative, which has continued to make Skid Row the most heavily policed and criminalized community in the country. Just down the street, LA CAN members joined the No New Jails Coalition to demand that the LA County Board of Supervisors reverse its decision to create a $10 million contract with the City of Taft and instead put more resources into rehabilitation (NOT more incarceration). See the video above for more information. Stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved in the fight. Until then, ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!


JOIN US at the Homeless Bill of Rights SoCal Launch Event THIS SATURDAY!

Posted in Event, human & civil rights, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 30, 2013 by Cangress

1186126_10201139849032034_1743356466_nJoin LA CAN, Hunger Action LA, the LA Human Right to Housing Collective, W.O.R.K.S. and many more THIS SATURDAY for the Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign Launch Event.

Saturday, October 5 | 10am – 12pm
Young Burlington Apartments | 820 S. Burlington, Los Angeles, CA 90057

For more information or to RSVP please call 213.228.0024.

HBR Campaign Flyer - 19 September 2013


Homeless Bill of Rights Passes the CA Assembly Judiciary Committee!

Posted in civil rights, organizing, photos, video with tags , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by Cangress

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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

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