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California | Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Local ACLU Issues Letter of Support for AB 5 The Homeless Bill of Rights
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday May 29th, 2013 4:36 PM
ACLU Urges Restoration of "Quality of Life" Provisions

ACLU of Santa Cruz County
123 Liberty Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
santacruzaclu [at] gmail.com

May 29, 2013

The Honorable Bill Monning
Capitol Office, Room 4066
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: AB 5 (Support)

The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU) respectfully recommends support for AB 5, The Homeless Bill of Rights, which would directly address what we believe to be continued discrimination against homeless persons and which would redirect resources that are presently being employed to criminalize poverty.

The ACLU of Santa Cruz County maintains that laws that discriminate against impoverished people raise significant civil liberties issues. Poverty is often caused in part by this country’s unequal treatment of, and opportunities for, individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion and/or disabilities. Economically disadvantaged citizens are denied civil liberties disproportionately to their more financially fortunate counterparts. Laws that specifically criminalize those without homes, such as “quality of life” or “anti-nuisance” ordinances, and which penalize people for sleeping, loitering, panhandling, or simply being present in a public space run counter to fundamental civil liberties and essential human rights. If we are ever to achieve the greater societal good of ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness, we must first recognize that criminalization of the less fortunate is not sound fiscal or governmental policy.

It is our understanding that several provisions of AB 5, including those that prohibit the enforcement of “quality of life” offenses, have been stricken from the bill. We strongly urge that you and your colleagues in the California State Senate act to restore this language and revive the promise and the spirit of the protections this bill was intended to provide.

Sincerely,


__________________________
Peter Gelbum, Chair
Board of Directors
ACLU Santa Cruz Chapter