If we are going to see the lives of the homeless improve, a first step is to keep government officials (especially city officials) from preventing the homeless doing legal activity. Things like sleeping in a car or a public park, having access to a bathroom. Seems pretty basic? Yet our homeless folks are told to leave the city because a police officer sees them sitting down or laying down on a sidewalk. They aren't asked to move. Sometimes they are given a ticket. Sometimes they are told to vacate the city for 30 days without due process.
Being homeless is hard enough, with the stress of poverty, and the difficulty of surviving. It's harder to get off the street. But it's even harder to do all that and have the government treat you like an enemy because you don't happen to have a place to sleep.
One way of dealing with this is to have states pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. Conneticut already passed on this year, which prevents the homeless from being persecuted for being human. Here's an example of one that WRAP is trying to pass in California and Oregon:
1. Right to move freely, rest, sleep, & pray and be protected in public spaces without discrimination.
2. Right to occupy a legally parked vehicle.
3. Right to serve food and eat in public.
4. Right to legal counsel if being prosecuted.
5. Right to 24-hour access to “hygiene facilities”
This bill, if passed by state legislators, will improve the lot of the homeless tremendously. It doesn't provide them with any services, but it takes out one of the major stresses of everyday homeless living: wondering if an officer will wake you up and tell you that you have to move on.