Connecticut Poised to Make History By Enacting “Homeless Bill of Rights”

Lauren Teixeira

Connecticut is on the verge of becoming just the second state in the union to enact a “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights,” following Rhode Island. The landmark legislation, which passed through the Connecticut legislature Friday, would protect civil liberties which homeless persons are routinely denied, such as equal employment opportunity and the right to privacy.  Perhaps most significantly, SB 896 guarantees homeless persons the right to “move freely” through public spaces without police harassment. If Gov. Dan Malloy (D) signs it, the law will take effect on October 1. And in a positive sign for homeless rights advocates, this type of legislation is spreading to other states across the country. Illinois may soon follow suit—a similar bill recently passed through that state’s legislature and currently awaits approval by Gov. Pat Quinn (D)—and Deleware and Oregon are also both looking into such bills.  The Connecticut bill's seven protections are:  (1) Move freely in public spaces, including on public sidewalks, in public parks, on public transportation and in public buildings without harassment or intimidation from law enforcement officers in the same manner as other persons; (2) Have equal opportunities for employment; (3) Receive emergency medical care; (4) Register to vote and to vote; (5) Have personal information protected; (6) Have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property; and (7) Receive equal treatment by state and municipal agencies.

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Lauren Teixeira is a Summer 2013 editorial intern at In These Times.
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