|Western Regional Advocacy Project members and allies were met with support and a huge victory on Tuesday 4/23 in Sacramento, California’s capitol. AB 5, The Homeless Bill of Rights passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee with 7 yes votes. Despite strong opposition, our grassroots movement of homeless and poor people mobilized hundreds of people to rally and lobby the democratic members who voted in support of AB 5. Our base of organizations across California and Oregon have been working together to build a broad base of support for this much needed new path forward to address our collective economic problems. The data, language, solutions, and decisions on the bill have all been made in a coordinated coalitional structure that reflect the collective values and work that make up WRAP.“This signals a victory for the people!” said Jessica Bartholomew of The Western Center on Law and Poverty, co-sponsors of AB 5. “The support of the democratic members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee for AB 5 Homeless Bill of Rights is not only a testament of our hard work but it is also a statement from our elected leaders that they understand, support, and believe in the intent of AB 5 – to stop the criminalization of homelessness and instead address our collective problems with pro-active and lasting solutions.”|
|WRAP members have been gathering data and exposing a trend in anti-homeless legislation aimed at citing and incarcerating homeless people as the wrong response for California to take in its approach to ending the humanitarian crisis that is homelessness. AB 5 calls for the creation of hygiene centers, protections for homeless youth, and access to counsel during times of civil prosecution for being homeless. Opponents of this bill say that municipalities should be allowed to choose their own approaches.“Anytime you respond to homelessness with law enforcement, you are responding with criminalization,” says Lisa Marie Alatorre of the SF Coalition On Homelessness. “When you respond with increased services, abundant housing, accessible health care, and nourishing food, you will not need law enforcement to respond. We believe that all Californians can agree that criminalization is not an acceptable approach. We are excited for California to lead the country in turning the tide towards a new way forward to addressing poverty and homelessness.”
Our bill now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee where WRAP members and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, who is championing AB 5 in the legislature, will be responding to the questions and concerns regarding cost and funding for the legislation. We are confident that AB 5 will prove to be a huge benefit to California and not the financial strain the opposition claims.