Right to Rest Campaign Rejected in Sacramento, March 29, 2016

The Right to Rest Campaign is defending the human rights of homeless people by supporting legislation in California, Colorado and Oregon to decriminalize homelessness. These Bills would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat, and perform religious observations in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle.

3/29/16

Western Regional Advocacy Project

Press Statement

The Fight for Our Right to Rest Continues

On March 29, 2016 the Senate Housing and Transportation Committee voted against SB 876 , The Right to Rest Bill. SB 876 demands an end to discriminatory policing practices that criminalize homeless people for sitting, resting, sleeping, lying and eating in public when they have nowhere else to do so. While the legislation has not passed in the Senate this year, the fight for our right to rest continues.

Organizers with the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a coalition of 9 core organizations and over 175 allied organizations in 3 states, filled the room with poor and homeless people waiting on bated breath to see if their right to exist would be granted by the state of California.

“While we are all feeling immense disappointment by the loss of this legislation, the true disappointment comes from knowing that in the eyes of the state of California, poor and homeless people do not deserve the most basic rights to exist in public without fear of violence, harassment, ticketing or jailing at the hands of the police,” says Coral Feigin of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. “We also know that this is a call to action to continue to build up our communities capacity to respond to state violence, keep growing our fight for justice, and speak truth to power.”

Organizers are reassured by grounding this process in history, remembering that racist Jim Crow laws, ableist Ugly Laws and xenophobic Anti-Okie laws took years before they were expunged from the legal stature and deemed unconstitutional. Anti-homeless laws are simply a new iteration of these laws that have always existed in our history to remove certain people from public view and strip them of their rights.

“There is no doubt about it, we will win our right to rest. From Colorado to Oregon to California and beyond, we are growing our power. We will be here next year, the year after, and every year after that until our legislation passes,” said Lisa Marie Alatorre of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. “Don’t believe us, just watch”


3/24/16

For Immediate Release – Thursday, March 24th, 2016

SB 876 and The Fight for Poor People’s Civil Rights is Back with a New Hearing Scheduled in Sacramento

Press Contacts:
Paul Boden, Western Regional Advocacy Project, pboden@wraphome.org. 415-430-7358
Lisa Marie Alatorre, SF Coalition on Homelessness, lmalatorre@cohsf.org. 510-982-9275
Eric Ares, Los Angeles Community Action Network, erica@cangress.org. 213-458-3909

SACRAMENTO – Community organizers from the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a coalition of 9 core organizations and over 175 allied organizations, move legislation written by and for poor and homeless people for the third year. SB 876 demands an end to discriminatory policing practices that criminalize homeless people for sitting, resting, sleeping, lying and eating in public when they have nowhere else to do so. On Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 SB 876 will have its first hearing in the Senate Housing and Transportation Committee.

According to Senator Liu, “this bill is intended to ensure equal rights for the homeless.  It’s time to address poverty, mental health, and the plight of the homeless head-on as a social issue and not a criminal issue.  Citing the homeless for simply resting in a public space creates a criminal record that can lead to rejection for jobs, education loans, and housing and further block their pathway out of poverty,” she added.

The Western Regional Advocacy Project has been gaining momentum over the past 3 years, running similar legislation in both Oregon and Colorado state legislatures. While the demands of decriminalizing rest are humble, if this legislation passes the effects for poor and homeless people would be monumental. However, with 73 cities, 3 counties and 3 towns declaring opposition to this legislation it is clear that local jurisdictions want to maintain their ability to harass criminalize and disappear poor and homeless people from public space. Despite the fact that on average 70% of these cities, counties and towns homeless populations are unsheltered meaning that they would need to engage their life-sustaining activities in public.

This hearing also comes at a time when federal governmental organizations like the Department of Justice (DOJ), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.N. are beginning to look closely at the practice of criminalizing homelessness. The U.N. recently released a report which called criminalizing homelessness as “cruel and unusual punishment” mirrored by the DOJ’s claim that criminalization is “unconstitutional.”

“We know that when SB 876 passes that tens of thousands of homeless people’s lives will change exponentially. Without the barrier of fines, court dates, bench warrants, and jail time for engaging in life-sustaining activities, homeless people can actually search for opportunities to exit homelessness” said Lisa Marie Alatorre of SF Coalition on Homelessness. “This bill is also about more than just protecting homeless people from discriminatory policing, it is about demanding the right for poor and homeless people to exist”
###

3/15/16

Right to Rest Comes Back to Sacramento
Hearing date set for March 29, 2016

state-capitol-califas

Join us in Sacramento
Tuesday, March 29th

1 :30 p.m.
Transportation and Housing Committee
John Burton Hearing Room# 4203

SB876 speak up for Your Right to Rest!
Send your support letter!
for more info:
Western Regional Advocacy Project
(415) 621-2533
wrap@wraphome.org
www.wraphome.org

1/15/16

Senator Carol Liu Introduces Legislation Protecting the Civil Rights of Homeless Individuals

Sacramento. California State Senator Carol Liu (D – La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced a new bill designed to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness. SB 876 prohibits law enforcement from arresting or ticketing people for resting, eating, or practicing religion in public spaces.

According to Senator Liu, “this bill is intended to ensure equal rights for the homeless. It’s time to address poverty, mental health, and the plight of the homeless head-on as a social issue and not a criminal issue. Citing the homeless for simply resting in a public space creates a criminal record that can lead to rejection for jobs, education loans, and housing and further block their pathway out of poverty,” she added.

According to a 2015 report by the UC Berkeley School of Law Policy Advocacy Clinic, the number of anti-homeless laws passed by California municipalities has risen sharply in recent years. In total, the 58 cities researched in the study have enacted at least 500 anti-homeless laws – nearly nine laws per city on average.

Recently announced efforts to combat homelessness include California State Senate President Pro Tempore, Kevin de León’s bi-partisan “No Place Like Home” initiative, which would provide 2 billion dollars for cities to build permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Coupling housing with treatment for mental illness and other wrap-around support services provides a long-term, sustainable solution to homelessness. However, funding for housing and wrap-around services is just one piece of a multi-pronged strategy that must also include putting an end to criminalizing the homeless.

“We applaud sincere efforts to build more permanent supportive housing, but no plan or strategy to end homelessness is complete without ceasing the failed policies that ticket or jail people for sleeping, eating, or sitting in public when they have no other place to go,” says Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which coordinates the coalition of 140 organizations across the state that are supporting SB 876. “Even if we get new money to build the housing we critically need, it will take time to develop those units and house people. Cities cannot continue to make illegal the basic life-sustaining activities of people who have no other choice but to live in public.”

The growing rate at which cities are criminalizing homelessness is not unique to California. Rather, it reflects a national trend in practices that are increasingly being challenged in federal courts. In December 2015, a federal judge suspended a Ft. Lauderdale law banning public food sharing after a 90-year old resident was arrested twice for serving meals to homeless individuals.

“SB 876 is consistent with the federal government’s condemnation of practices that criminalize homelessness and violate their civil rights,” said Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “Under this bill, we hope communities will apply their resources to develop housing and other services for the homeless. Such strategies are less expensive and more successful at ending homelessness than criminalization; a practice the U.S. Department of Justice has said is unconstitutional.

For more information go to: www.wraphome.org
contact us at: wrap@wraphome.org


 

10/12/15

Two Federal Agencies Weigh in Against Criminalizing Homelessness

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  and Department of Justice (DOJ) Take Stance Against Criminalization

On August 6th, 2015 the DOJ released a statement of interest expressing opposition to the criminalization of homelessness in a Boise, ID anti-camping case. More recently, HUD released its guidelines for “Continuum of Care” consortiums vying for a share of the  $1.9 billion in homelessness assistance funding. They will now require applicants explain how their communities are combatting the criminalization of homelessness and giving preference to applicants who provide evidence of their policies. The actions of these two federal agencies are especially welcome at a time when more and more laws criminalizing homeless people’s right to exist in public spaces are being passed every day throughout the country.

7/24/15

Protest Harassment of Poor and Homeless People in San Francisco – Defend our Right to Rest

Join us for a march on the Union Square Business Improvement District office on July 31st @ 3 PM and be a part of building our movement towards the elimination of poverty and homelessness and the fight for our #Right2Rest.

Rally for our rights at the Powell Street BART station in San Francisco and march in protest to the Union Square Business Improvement District offices on Friday, July 31 at 3 pm.

 

New Hope for Homeless Vehicle Dwellers in California

The last Homeless Census reported that people living in vehicles was one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless community. “Our research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of people whose primary residence is a motor home or RV,” said Peter Connery of Applied Survey Research.

 

5/6/15

Right To Rest Legislation Held Over in State Senate

Proponents of the Right to Rest bill — including a busload of advocates of homeless people from San Francisco and Oakland — turned out in great numbers. Supporters outnumbered opposition lobbyists from business alliances and city governments by 6 to 1 during legislative hearings in Sacramento.

4/28/15

Right to Rest Act Gets Hearing in Sacramento

Activists from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and across the state of California trekked to Sacramento on April 7, 2015 to lobby for the “Right to Rest. They are part of the growing movement aimed at ending the criminalization of homeless people and stopping police profiling and harassment of all people in public places.

Read More

4/28/2015

Colorado Right to Rest Loses Committee Vote

Billie Bramhall with a “Move Along to Where?” button. In the background, an advocate of the bill weeps. Photo by Tessa Cheek.

by Tessa Cheek Source:  Colorado Independent “Shame!” “Shame!” cried a man in the back of the Capitol’s largest, packed committee room. The vote was not yet tallied, but it was clear: The Homeless Bill of Rights was failing. A sergeant-at-arms escorted the man from the room. Other protestors replaced him.The final votes were announced. The bill […]Read More

4/7/2015

Angel McClain: “Right to Rest” Testimony in full

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you in support of Senator Carol Lui’s SB608, the Right to Rest Act. My name is Angel McClain and I am a Senior Advocate for Hope and Justice for St. Mary’s Center. St. Mary’s Center is a senior service provider in West Oakland who helps me […]
Read More

4/7/15

Angie McCain Testifies at April 7 Hearing on SB 608

Angie McCain Testifies at April 7 Hearing on SB 608

Right to Rest Gets Hearing in California Legislature

Dozens of homeless advocates traveled from all over the state to testify at the first legislative hearing for WRAP’s Right to Rest campaign. (Video of hearing, SB608 introduced at 18 minutes.)

Senator Liu kicked off the hearing noting that 20% of the nations homeless live in California, and the California has more homeless families and children than any other state in the United States. Angie McCain started  the testimony (at minute 22) with a compelling account of her life as a homeless woman.

Eloquent speakers from the homeless community laid out the need to protect civil rights for all.  In written submissions to the committee, the coalition provided extensive documentation and analysis of why this legislation is crucial and rebutted the disingenuous position of anti-homeless rights organizations like the League of Cities who claim to support affordable housing. (Link to Coalition letter rebutting League Of Cities).

Another hearing is tentatively set for April 21, 2015 and the campaign is organizing  to bolster proponents and turn swing-vote legislators with letters of support.  Use the template below to reach out to your legislator.

3/27/15

Please take 5 minutes to help the California Right to Rest Bill!

Organizers in California, Oregon, and Colorado are working
collaboratively to pass the Right to Rest bills in each of our states.
We created this legislation together based in 1000’s of outreach surveys
to the houseless community about their experience with criminalization.

In California, the Right to Rest Bill (SB 608) is currently in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and we need your help!

Thank you to those who already sent a letter – we really appreciate it
and you! But we need many more letters sent by March 30 in preparation for the April 7 committee hearing.

Attached is a letter template – it can come from you as an individual or
your organization (please use your letterhead) but its important that
the committee members know that you care, and you are watching and that
we all will stand up together for basic human rights for people
experiencing homelessness.

-Right to Rest Act of 2015, SB 608
Send support letter by Email to: joyce.Roys-Aguilera@sen.ca.gov.
Plese Cc Pboden@wraphome.org and Jbartholow@wclp.org

Here is the List of Members of the Housing and Transporation Committee. If you are in the district of the Senators, we encourage you to contact their offices and express your support for SB 608!

3/23/2015

Coalition announces:

California Right to Rest Hearing & Rally

Tuesday, 11 am April 7, 2015

SB608 @ Senate Hearing:
Transportation and Housing Committee
State Capitol, North Steps, Sacramento, CA

National Contact:
Western Regional Advocacy Project
(415) 621-2533
wrap@wraphome.org
www.wraphome.org

 

3/3/2015

California State Senator Carol Liu Introduces Right to Rest Legislation Protecting the Civil Rights of Homeless Individuals

California – Last week, California State Senator Carol Liu (D–La Cañada Flintridge) introduced legislation to end the alarming trend of cities passing laws that criminalize the basic civil rights of homeless individuals. SB 608, known as the “Right to Rest Act,” would, among other things, protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat, and perform religious observations in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle.

“It’s time to address poverty, mental health, and the plight of the homeless head-on as asocial issue and not a criminal issue,” says State Senator Liu.  “Citing homeless people for resting in a public space can lead to their rejection for jobs, education loans, and housing, further denying them a pathway out of poverty.”

A recent report by the UC Berkeley School of Law Policy Advocacy Clinic suggests that the number of anti-homeless laws passed by California municipalities has risen sharply in recent years. In total, the 58 cities researched in the study have enacted at least 500 anti-homeless laws  – nearly nine laws per city on average. These laws prohibit many of activities that SB 608 aims to protect. Similar billshave been introduced in Oregon and Colorado.

“Everyone sleeps, eats, and sits, but only some get tickets or go to jail for it,” says Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which coordinates the coalition of 140 organizations across the state that is supporting the Right to Rest Act. “Criminalization only makes things worse for people living on the streets. And by not having to enforce crimes of status, law enforcement can focus on real public safety issues. We applaud Senator Liu’s leadership, and look forward to working with her in protecting the civil rights of homeless individuals and refocusing attention to solutions that end homelessness.”

The growing criminalization of homelessness is not unique to California. Rather, it reflects a national trend that is increasingly being challenged in federal courts. In December of last year, 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.  In June 2014, a different 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 also illegal,” stated Steve Diaz of the Los Angeles Community Action Network. “They do not stop real 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. We are hopeful that by focusing less on enforcement of unjust laws, cities can start reallocating resources to housing and services. Everyone deserves the right to exist in public space regardless of their housing status, and SB 608 will help protect that right.”

 


3/3/2015

Send a support letter for SB 608

Please send a support letter by March 10 – On your letter head

Sample Support Letter – Right to Rest Act of 2015, SB 608 (Liu)

Send by Email to: Pboden@wraphome.org, Jbartholow@wclp.org and Suzanne.Reed@sen.ca.gov

Date _____

 

Honorable Carol Liu

California State Senate

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Right to Rest Act of 2015, SB 608 (Liu) – Support

Dear Senator Liu,

[Name of Your Organization] supports your bill, SB 608, which will end the criminalization of rest and accompanying violations of basic human and civil rights for all people, regardless of their housing status. In doing so, SB 608 would encourage the diversion of expenditures on citing and jailing people for resting in public spaces on efforts to prevent homelessness.

California, with only 12 percent of the country’s overall population but 22 percent of its homeless population and 25 percent of its homeless veteran population, is at the epicenter of the criminalization of homelessness. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, California cities are substantially more likely than cities in other states to ban rest. While only 33 percent of non-California cities restrict this activity, 74 percent of California cities ban the practice.

Researchers from the Policy Advocacy Clinic at the University of California at Berkeley Law School analyzed the prevalence of these types of municipal codes restricting rest and sharing of food in 58 California cities for its report “California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State.” Researchers identified over 500 municipal laws criminalizing standing, sitting, resting, sleeping and sharing of food in public places as well as laws making it illegal to ask for money, nearly nine laws per city, on average. The study also found that the number of ordinances targeting those behaviors rose along with the rise in homelessness following the sharp decline of federal funding for affordable housing that was cut in the early 1980s and again with the Great Recession in 2008.

Criminalizing practices which are not criminal not only worsens the condition of people without homes, but also narrows their opportunities to escape homelessness. By acknowledging the failure of municipal laws that criminalize poverty and homelessness, we hope that passage of this legislation will improve the focus on more humane and effective responses to homelessness.

The Right to Rest Act of 2015 will end the practice of citing and imprisoning Californians for resting, sharing food or practicing religion in public. Optional: Include 2 sentences about why your organization cares.

[Name of Your Organization] supports SB 608 and thanks you for introducing this important legislation.

 

Sincerely,

 

Your Name and Title

 

cc:            Paul Boden, Western Regional Advocacy Project (Co-Sponsor)                                        Jessica Bartholow, Western Center on Law and Poverty (Co-Sponsor)


2/24/15

WRAP calls on Supporters to TAKE ACTION today to ensure that all Californians have the Right 2 Rest!

Contact Assembly Member Tony Thurmond District 15 of Richmond and House Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego to let them know their leadership for human and civil rights is needed now more than ever! We have until Friday February 27th to secure our sponsor. ­ TAKE ACTION NOW!

Laws that segregate, that make criminals of people based on their status rather than their behavior, or that prohibit certain people’s right to be in public spaces are not just sad relics from the past: Today, numerous laws infringe on poor people¹s ability to exist in public space, to acquire housing, employment, and basic services, and to equal protection under the law. Our Right2Rest bill stands on the shoulders of social justice campaigns of the past to alleviate poverty and homelessness while protecting homeless and poor people from unjust laws and ensuring all people¹s right to exist in public spaces. UC Berkeley’s Law School recently released a new study³California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State” that documents the increasing criminalization of homeless people in California through local laws mimicking shameful vagrancy laws of past eras that targeted people of color, migrants, and the physically disabled. This must end now!

Tony Thurmond

Capitol Office:
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0015
Tel: (916) 319-2015
Fax: (916) 319-2115

District Office:
Elihu Harris State Building
1515 Clay Street
Suite 2201
Oakland, CA 94612
Tel: (510) 286-1400
Fax: (510) 286-1406

Toni Atkins

Capitol Office:
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0078
Tel: (916) 319-2078
Fax: (916) 319-2178

District Office:
1350 Front St., Room 6054
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: (619) 645-3090
Fax: (619) 645-3094

California WRAP members have been hitting the halls of the Capitol Building in Sacramento consistently for 3 weeks and we still have not found our champion to sponsor the Right2Rest Bill that Senator Chip Shields (and 9 co-sponsors) in Oregon and Assemblymember Salazar in Colorado have been brave enough to take on this year. California leaders are too busy or too nervous to take a stand for human and civil rights. By taking action today you will let our remaining “champions in the running” know that Californians across the state will stand with them, we just need them to take a stand with us to stop the criminalization of homelessness.

Videos courtesy of boonachepresents

February 19, 2015

January 19, 2015

Testify to the Senate, Rally and Press Conference! TUESDAY, 11 am April 7, 2015

Testify to the Senate, Rally and Press Conference!
TUESDAY, 11 am April 7, 2015

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