Media Advisory: Right to Rest Act (HB 2367)
For Immediate Release April 5, 2021 Salem, OR
The bill they can’t kill, the Sweeps that do!
Oregon’s houseless face life and death each day on the streets and deserve the dignity The Right to Rest Act provides.
Community members from across Oregon have pressured the House Judiciary Committee to act on the Right to Rest Act (HB 2367) first introduced by Freshman Representative Campos. HB 2367 was scheduled for a Judiciary Committee Hearing on March 9 when Chair Janelle Bynum abruptly pulled the bill on March 8. Also pulled were over 80 written testimonies in support of the Act as community members plead for the “sweeps,” which is when cities force our houseless neighbors to move over and over again while seizing all their possessions, to stop.
The Act is now scheduled for a hearing on April 13, 2021 at 1pm and co-sponsored by Representatives Pham, Grayber, and Dexter.
“Oregon’s homeless folks deserve dignity and they deserve to be heard. Our office recognizes the value and importance of centering the voices of our most vulnerable communities and will continue to push for policy that elevates the issues impacting these communities.” – Rep. Wlnsvey Campos
House Bill 2367 is critical life-saving legislation for our houseless communities across the state. John, a Portland houseless neighbor who supports HB 2367, talks about the barriers that “sweeps” pose to houseless neighbors who want to work:
“The biggest and loudest complaint I hear from people is that they want to look for a job and they can’t because we can be “swept” at any time. We are afraid to leave our things because when we come back, they will be gone. Our entire existence is to wake up, eat, and wonder when we will be moved. And this is America.” – John, Houseless neighbor
The Right to Rest Act would prohibit law enforcement, security personnel, or public employees from harassing, citing, or arresting houseless people for exercising their rights to to use and move freely in public spaces, rest (sit, stand, and sleep), eat and share food, pray and occupy a legally parked vehicle and will effectively end the daily “sweeps” of houseless camps.
Lynn, a Portland houseless neighbor, shared:
“My husband and I have been houseless for nine years. Everybody thinks we are drug addicts and alcoholics. That’s not the case. We are under the poverty level so there is no place for us but the streets. Sweeps disrupt everything. When our belongings are destroyed or seized during a sweep the City is stealing our money, our belongings and our time that could be spent working. We are prisoners of the City because we can’t leave our home.”
Homeless people are most often prosecuted for “crimes of survival,” like sitting, lying down, or sleeping in public space. Out of 565 street outreach surveys conducted by the Western Regional Advocacy Project in Oregon, 88% of homeless people were harassed, cited or arrested for sleeping, 83% for sitting or lying down and 78% for loitering or “hanging out”.
HB 2367 is not just a “homeless bill”. Unhoused people are not the only people who are targeted for police contact solely for being in public space, as shown by the myriad of racially violent stories in which the police are called on people for #WalkingWhileBlack. When laws exist that can arbitrarily criminalize anyone, there is an immense risk that our legal system will continue to reinforce the oppression of and brutality against non-white, poor citizens, whom police have historically been able to kill and maim with impunity. HB 2367 directly states that people have the right to exist in public space and participate in social and economic life without facing constant threats from discriminatory policing. Adele, a Portland houseless neighbor who lives in her car, stated,
“Sweeps are like being raped. The anxiety of not knowing when my stuff will be taken is overwhelming. I don’t have a chance to have a place where I can rest, and gather things that are important for me to survive. I’m lost when they take my belongings because I know anything I gather again will be taken away again. They are supposed to keep your belongings but one friend of mine who was swept later found his stuff by the side of the road where Rapid Response dumped it.”
…I know of a couple who froze to death in their tent during the snowstorm because they were afraid to leave their stuff. The sweeps kill.”
Lynn, Portland houseless neighbor Mobile, 503-496-6836
Adele, Portland houseless neighbor Mobile, 971-212-9215
John, Portland houseless neighbor Mobile, 503-805-2718
Oregon Right to Rest Act | Western Regional Advocacy Project
ACLU 2017 Report, “Decriminalizing Homelessness: Why Right to Rest is the High Road for Oregon”
The Right to Adequate Housing” from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
Portland homeless account for majority of police arrests, analysis find
Dec. 2, 2020 – City of Eugene bulldozing someone’s tent to take to a dumpster