The House Committee on Human Services deferred a bill on Tuesday that would create a “Houseless Bill of Rights,” designed to ensure homeless would be protected from discrimination and afforded certain rights, such as access to restrooms, public spaces, the ability to vote and to sleep in a legally parked car.
The measure had support from homeless advocates, while the attorney general’s office expressed legal concerns about some aspects of the bill. For instance, state law prohibits people from sleeping or living in their cars — contradicting the bill of rights and requiring the current law to be rescinded.
Tents line the sidewalks at Ohe Street near Waterfront Park in Kakaako.
In recent months, Honolulu has passed controversial laws that ban sitting and lying on certain sidewalks and pedestrian malls throughout Oahu and ramped up the enforcement of nuisance laws in an attempt prod homeless out of tourist and business districts and into shelters.
Kathryn Xian, a homeless advocate and executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, expressed disappointment after the House committee vote.
“The delay of these rights for our most vulnerable in our community (the houseless) leave the city enabled to introduce and pass even more laws criminalizing the houseless,” she said in email to lawmakers and the media.
Other measures aimed at protecting the homeless are set to be heard in the Legislature on Thursday.
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