Cities with a Homeless Bill of Rights



On November 2, 2015 the City Commission of Traverse City adopted a Bill of Rights for homeless residents of the city. I am so very proud of my new home town for having taken this important and compassionate step.

In an era where some cities have passed laws criminalizing the giving of care and comfort to the homeless, Traverse City has boldly and clearly articulated that homeless residents have basic rights that must be adhered to – one of only three cities in the United States to have done so along with Madison, Wisconsin and Baltimore, Maryland.

The low number of cities which have adopted a Homeless Bill of Rights to date was quite a surprise to me. I would have guessed that many more cities across the nation would have done so by now. Hopefully, many more cities across the nation will begin to adopt and codify similar measures.

Below are the nine rights spelled out in Traverse City’s resolution.

  1. Access basic requirement necessary for sustaining life, including shelter, sanitation, medical care, clothing, and food;

  2. Move freely in public places in the same manner as other persons without harassment or intimidation;

  3. Have equal opportunities for employment;

  4. Receive emergency medical care;

  5. Exercise equal civic privileges, including the right to register to vote and the right to vote;

  6. Have personal information protected;

  7. Have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property;

  8. Receive equal treatment by state, county, and municipal agencies; and

  9. Allow for access to resources for housing and supportive housing.

Congratulations to Traverse City for demonstrating the importance of empathy and compassion for the less fortunate in our community. It is an  unfortunate statement about the current state of our society’s principles that a homeless bill of rights should even need to be spelled out in the first place, as these should be the standard rule for how we treat all our fellow human brings. Would we desire anything less ourselves , if we were in their place? Remember – therefore, but with grace go I.

This entry was posted in Advocacy, cities, civics, civility, culture, health, homelessness, Housing, human rights, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, Love, planning, politics, social equity, urban planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cities with a Homeless Bill of Rights

  1. I, too, and surprised so few cities have a Homeless Bill of Rights. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront, Rick.

    Liked by 1 person

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