California News

'Homeless Bill of Rights' measure introduced

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do homeless people deserve their own "bill of rights?" One California lawmaker says yes. Tuesday, a bill was making its way through the state Capitol that would allow homeless people to sit, sleep and panhandle in public.

Sable Beale says she spent years on the street before getting help finding housing.

"I was homeless in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska and then I was homeless here. But it was not until here in California that I got arrested for sleeping on a bus bench," said Beale, an advocate for the homeless.

Los Angeles is one of several cities in California that have ordinances banning the homeless from sitting or lying on streets and sidewalks.

Homeless advocates like Beale are hoping proposed legislation called "The Homeless Bill of Rights" will change that. The bill would allow the homeless the freedom to sleep and panhandle in public places. A legislative committee passed the proposed measure after amending it and taking out language that would have also allowed homeless people the right to urinate in public.

"The bill is desperately needed, not just in California, but it's needed in every single state that we are in," said Beale.

"The bill would forbid local law enforcement from enforcing laws that prohibit a person's ability to rest," said homeless advocate Steve Diaz.

The bill still has several more hurdles to cross before going to state lawmakers for a vote.

Mark Carnel says as a building manager in downtown L.A., he wants legislators to vote "no" on the bill and he wants the homeless off the streets.

"They are completely taking over. They block my entrances, they use the bathroom outside on the street, and it's just bad," said Carnel.

"To just sleep on the corner and say that that's OK, I don't think that's good for the community," said Los Angeles resident Sarah Korc. "I don't think that's good for them either. I think that's just the easy way out."

Advocates for the homeless say more than anything they want to get out the message that being homeless is not a crime.

"Homelessness today is women and children who lost housing; professionals who have lost jobs due to our economic problems," said Beale.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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