Vol. 6 No. 2, Spring 2015; Homeless Bill of Rights: How Legislators Get to Feel Pro-Homeless Without Effort or Money
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In 2013, Illinois became the second state in the nation to enact a homeless bill of rights to protect homeless persons from discrimination in the right to use and move freely in public spaces in the same manner as any other person, the right to equal treatment by State and municipal agencies, the right not to register to vote and to vote, the right to have personal information protected, and the right to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property. Though legislation to protect the rights of homeless people is necessary, the Illinois Homeless Bill of Rights does not do what is needed to combat homelessness. After some background information about the history of homelessness in America and the similarities and differences between the three homeless bills of rights that have been enacted, this Comment argues that the Illinois Homeless Bill of Rights does not provide any new protection for people struggling with homelessness, but, through its limiting language, instead gives the homeless population rights that they have already possessed. This Comment also advocates alternative measures to prevent homelessness and stop the criminalization of the homeless by looking at methods implemented in other places around the country.