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HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS IN NORTHEAST OHIO  

Prepared by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) 2000.  This is an overview of our platform for implementing over the next decade.

The following homeless rights serve as guiding principles for NEOCH’s advocacy agenda and day-to-day operations.  We recommend them to other homeless advocacy organizations, program and service providers, and all branches of government: federal, state and local.

EMPOWERMENT:   The right of homeless persons to:

  1. Programs and services that lead to long-term, “out of homelessness and poverty” solutions, including programs and services for families that promote cohesion and do not require family break-up in order for family members to receive services.

  2. Active homeless participation in the development, implementation, and oversight of policies and programs that directly or indirectly impact them;

  3. Honest, accurate and timely information on programs and services; and

  4. Being treated with dignity, respect and equality by all, including shelter and service providers and all branches of government.

HOUSING:   The right of homeless persons to:

  1. Decent and safe emergency facilities, including a day-time shelter;

  2. Transitional housing and attendant social and medical services, as needed; and

  3. Decent, safe and affordable permanent housing.

MEDICAL CARE:  The right of homeless persons to comprehensive medical, mental health and dental care, including:

  1. Emergency and routine medical care on the streets and in medical facilities;

  2. Alcohol and drug residential treatment on demand;  

  3. Bathroom facilities should be available 24 hours a day;

  4. Sufficient stays in medical facilities so that healing occurs before release;

  5. Effective follow-up or after-care medical care in a secure and stable environment, especially for persons with drug addiction.

  6. Access to prescription drugs, as needed;

  7. Proper nutrition to ensure a healthy existence; and        

  8. Maintenance and updating of patient records (with built-in confidentiality for security of records to all homeless people including youth).

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING: The right of homeless persons to:

  1. Job training and job counseling;

  2. Job opportunities and placement (including supportive services, as needed) that provides a livable wage; and

  3. An Income Safety net for those not able to find work or those without the ability to work provided by the government for all people with yearly cost of living increases.

  4. The elimination of barriers to unionize for collective bargaining purposes especially for welfare/workfare workers and temporary labor employees.

LEGAL PROTECTION: The right of homeless persons to:

  1. Equal enforcement of the law and the elimination of existing laws that, in practice, target homeless persons;

  2. Effective federal monitoring of homeless civil rights violations;

  3. Clear and certain separation between the criminal justice system and service agencies in the provision of benefits; and

  4. Confidentiality and privacy in the provision of benefits and services.