(July 29, 2021, Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Cori Bush (MO-01) unveiled the Unhoused Bill of Rights, the “first federal resolution to declare unalienable rights for unhoused persons and provide solutions to permanently end the crisis by 2025.”
The National Homelessness Law Center (the Law Center) is grateful to have worked with Representative Bush to develop the Unhoused Bill of Rights and is proud to officially endorse the legislation.
This groundbreaking legislation seeks to permanently end the unhoused crisis by 2025 by increasing the number of affordable rental units; providing universal housing vouchers; supplementing funding for social services, housing programs, and shelters; and stopping the misdirection of funding to counter-productive law enforcement responses to homelessness.
Critically, this bill would protect the human rights of persons experiencing homelessness in the United States for the first time. Among many, these rights include freedom from harassment by law enforcement.
Criminalization of homelessness has been a growing issue across the country despite the fact that it does nothing to address or solve the root causes of homelessness. Research has repeatedly shown that criminalizing homelessness costs more than providing universal housing for everyone experiencing homelessness. The Unhoused Bill of Rights puts Congress on the record as supporting the protection of people experiencing homelessness from unconstitutional laws that criminalize everyday activities such as sitting and sleeping.
“Because homelessness disparately impacts Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, as well as LGBTQ+ and disabled populations, these groups that are already over-represented in our jails and prisons are even further marginalized, saddled with criminal records and fines and fees they can’t pay and that will only make it harder for them to get off the streets,” said Eric Tars, Legal Director at the Law Center. “Far from solving homelessness, criminalization actually prolongs it.”
This legislation will also allocate over $200 billion in federal funding to state and local governments to provide sanitation facilities and places of shelter for unhoused persons in order to address both the housing and public health crises.
“In introducing the Unhoused Bill of Rights, Representative Cori Bush demonstrates once again why we need more legislators with the lived experience of homelessness, poverty, and racial discrimination,” said Antonia Fasanelli, the Law Center’s Executive Director. “Rep. Bush’s Unhoused Bill of Rights is our guide map to making that right a reality in America. We call on Congress to pass this bill, and then take the further steps to pass the additional policies affirmed in the bill in order to end homelessness in America the right way, through Housing, Not Handcuffs.”
To view the full text of the bill, click here.
The National Homelessness Law Center (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.