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HomeNew York City / NYCNew York City Takes Steps to Protect the Rights of Homeless Individuals

New York City Takes Steps to Protect the Rights of Homeless Individuals

New York City Council Passes Homeless Bill of Rights

The New York City Council passed a bill on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 that would codify the rights of homeless individuals both inside and outside of the city’s shelter system. The bill, called the Homeless Bill of Rights, was passed unanimously by the council and now goes to Mayor Eric Adams for his signature or veto.

The bill includes a number of rights for homeless individuals, including the right to shelter, the right to request an interpreter and translation when interacting with agencies, the right to vote, the right to file a complaint and be protected from retaliation for filing complaints, the ability to communicate with a housing specialist and apply for rental assistance, the right to sleep outside, the option to be placed in a shelter consistent with a person’s gender identity or expression, and the right to receive diapers and feminine hygiene products.

The bill also codifies a right to access legal support and several environmental standards inside of shelters themselves, including access to bathrooms and laundry, space to bathe and change babies and small children, and have meals and accommodations for dietary needs.

The bill on traffic crashes will increase transparency, aid collaboration, and help prevent traffic violence.

The bill was passed in response to the city’s growing homelessness crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of January 8, 2023, there were 67,880 homeless children and adults living in shelters managed by the city’s Department of Homeless Services and thousands more living in shelters managed by other city agencies.

The bill now goes to Mayor Eric Adams for his signature or veto. If he signs it, it will be a major victory for homeless advocates and a step towards ensuring that all New Yorkers have the right to a safe and stable place to live.

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