Homeless Bill of Rights
The Homeless Bill of Rights is a grassroots organizing campaign fighting to end the criminalization of poor and homeless people’s existence. The Homeless Bill of Rights campaign strives to ensure that all people have the basic right to live where they choose without fear of harassment and criminalization at the hands of the police. This campaign is a way of working collectively with groups possessing different talents to address the many injustices that we face in our communities. We are building the power to create a social justice movement that will create a society where we can all thrive.
The goals and priorities of the campaign come from the results of 1,000s of street outreach surveys to people in various cities being criminalized for sitting, lying, resting, sleeping and eating while poor and/or homeless. The Homeless Bill of Rights campaign includes a legislative strategy to move state legislation, a grassroots organizing strategy to engage organizations through community forums and direct action, a media strategy to create effective messaging across mediums and a legal strategy to backup the organizing with documented legal research.
The campaign recently shifted its form into 3 autonomous statewide campaigns in California, Colorado and Oregon that work together under the WRAP coalition umbrella. All 3 campaigns share messaging, research, artwork, experiences and strategies but also address the different political contexts and realities in each state.
To learn more about the statewide campaigns, click on the links below:
Without Housing Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks & Massive Homelessness A Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign Presentation
The preliminary findings from our street outreach to over 1584 homeless people in 15 communities shows:
- 82% of survey respondents reported being harassed, cited, or arrested for sleeping.
- 77% of survey respondents reported being harassed, cited, or arrested for sitting or lying on the sidewalk.
- 75% of survey respondents reported being harassed, cited, or arrested for loitering or hanging out.
- Only 25% of the respondents said they knew of a safe place to sleep at night.
- See the full results here: Street outreach fact sheet
If you would like to add your communities voice to this effort download the forms below, complete the surveys, and send them into us. We will add them to the national results and send you your local & national results.
English Outreach Form Download
Spanish Outreach Form Download
Artwork is a crucial part of how WRAP organizes. To see more WRAP art click here.
Business Improvement Districts | BID’s
The United States has a long history of using mean spirited and often brutal laws to keep “certain” people out of public spaces and consciousness. Jim Crow, Sundown towns, Anti-Okie laws, Operation Wetback and Ugly laws targeted various populations based on their racial, economic, social, immigration or disability status. Understanding this history will provide context for the exclusionary and discriminatory laws that specifically target homeless people for what are referred to as “Quality of Life” or “Nuisance Crimes.” They criminalize sleeping, sitting, loitering, panhandling and even food sharing. Just like the laws from our past, they deny people their right to exist in local communities. They have their roots in the Broken Windows Theory which holds that one poor person in a neighborhood is like a first unrepaired broken window; if such a “window” is not immediately fixed or removed, it is a signal that no one cares, disorder will flourish, and the community will go to hell in a hand basket. Today Business Improvement Districts are the “NEW JIM CROW” , the people lobbying local & state government to criminalize the presence of people living under extreme poverty in our country.
“Downtowns are centers for all kinds of special festivals and activities, as well as locations for retail stores, restaurants, craft brew enterprises and much more. Soliciting outside those businesses that have cast their fate with the success of downtowns is frequently a deterrent to people entering those businesses….”
Karen Horn of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Because federal responses to homelessness have been so ineffective, a growing number of localities are using “broken windows” policing to remove homeless people from public view. These punitive measures involve gross human and civil rights violations.
This nationwide pattern has escaped civil rights protections because these ordinances are drafted very carefully to appear as if they apply equally to all people, but enforcement is very much impacted by people’s skin color, housing, economic, and mental health status.
WRAP civil rights campaign combines street outreach, documentation of civil rights violations, organizing, legal defense, and direct action. None of us can do this alone. We must work in solidarity with one another to defend those being attacked and pressure local governments to end these discriminatory programs.