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Neighborhood Health Center in Redding, CA?

Recent community discussion about homelessness in Redding, CA has been prompted by letters to the editor in the Record Searchlight and articles by Frank Treadway and Doni Chamberlain in A News Cafe. They indicate that Redding City Council may be considering a Sit/Lie ordinance to attempt to control homeless people. Wouldn’t it make more sense to establish a Neighborhood Health Center in Redding, CA? … call it a Day Center or whatever you want, but conceptually it would be sort of like Homeless Connect, recently held at the Redding Convention Center, except it would be open 24/7. People in need could get food, assistance, showers, computer access, phone messages, job counseling, etc. It would supplement the fine work the Good News Rescue Mission is doing, but only for a portion of those in desperate need.

This is actually part of what was proposed in December 2012 by Tom Ammiano, California State Assembly Representative from the 7th District (San Francisco), who introduced the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act – AB5. This proposed law is just the opposite than a sit/lie ordinance. Unfortunately, the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee just killed AB5, but promoters vow to be back in 2014.

This is a summary of what the proposed law would have provided:

Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights

“Every person in the state, regardless of actual or perceived housing status, income level, mental illness, or physical disability, low income, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or immigration status, shall have the right to all of the following basic human rights and legal and civil protections, except when prohibited by federal law:

  1. The right to use and move freely in the same manner as any other person in public spaces
  2. The right to rest and sleep in public spaces
  3. The right to own and possess set down or leave at rest personal property in public spaces
  4. The right to share, accept, or give food in public spaces
  5. The right to the same protections that law enforcement agencies afford to all other citizens the general public…The right to engage in life sustaining activities that must be carried out in public spaces because of homelessness, including, but not limited to, eating, congregating, possessing and storing personal property, urinating, or collecting and possessing goods for recycling, even if those goods contain alcoholic residue, without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions, harassment, or arrest by law enforcement, public or private security personnel, or BID agents.
  6. The right to sleep, sit, lie down, stand, eat, solicit donations, or share food in a public place
  7. The right to be self-employed
  8. The right to pray, meditate, or practice religion in public spaces
  9. The right to make his or her own decisions regarding whether or not to enter into decline admittance to a public or private shelter or any other accommodation
  10. The right to occupy vehicles
  11. If the person is a child or youth, the right to state and federal enforcement of the educational protections under the federal McKinney-Vento Act…
  12. The right to be protected from disclosure of his or her records and information…
  13. The right to confidentiality of personal records regarding housing status, income level, mental illness, or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, or immigration status, and to protection from disclosure of such the information and records to landlords and employers.
  14. The right to assistance of counsel in any judicial proceeding
  15. The right to assistance of counsel in any civil or criminal proceeding that may result in commitment to a public health institution.
  16. The right to be free from arbitrary arrest, detention, or deportation…”

Protections for Those Assisting the Homeless

In addition to the assuring rights for homeless persons, there are also protections to those who would provide assistance. A public employee shall be immune from civil or criminal liability, and shall not be retaliated against by his or her employer, for offering public resources to a homeless person in order to protect that person from harm, including, but not limited to, for offering or providing food, blankets, first-aid supplies, or water.

Any person or organization or water offering food in public spaces to any person pursuant to this part shall not be subject to criminal or civil sanctions, arrest, or harassment by law enforcement, public or private security personnel, or BID agents.

Neighborhood Health Centers

Every local government and disadvantaged unincorporated community within the state shall have “sufficient health and hygiene centers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for use by homeless people. These facilities may be part of the Neighborhood Health Center Program… funded by the State Department of Public Health through those county agencies that oversee public health programs, and, at a minimum, shall contain public bathroom and shower facilities.”

 

Good works will not happen without public support.

What do you think? Should homeless people should have a Bill of Rights? What about CDAC’s request to allocate General Fund revenue in the amount of $11,920 to effectively increase People Of Progress’s allocation to $20,000?

Let your elected officials know at the Redding Council Meeting, July 16, 2013.

 

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