SB 876, as introduced, Liu. Homelessness.
Existing law provides that no person shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.
This bill would expand those provisions to also include exclusion or discrimination based upon homeless status. The bill would prohibit cities, counties, cities and counties, and municipal agencies that receive state funds from enacting or enforcing a law that bans resting in a public space, as defined. The bill would afford persons experiencing homelessness the right to use public spaces without discrimination based on their housing status and describe basic human and civil rights that may be exercised without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions, including the right to use and to move freely in public spaces, the right to rest in public spaces and to protect oneself from the elements, the right to eat in any public space in which having food is not prohibited, and the right to perform religious observances in public spaces, as specified. Because the bill would require local agencies to perform additional duties, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The bill would authorize a person whose rights have been violated pursuant to these provisions to enforce those rights in a civil action in which the court may award the prevailing party injunctive and declaratory relief, restitution, damages, statutory damages of $1,000 per violation, and fees and costs.
The bill would also require all applicants for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program to annually provide to the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Division of Housing Policy Development a copy of its application for funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that includes the organization’s response to the application question regarding steps that its community is taking to reduce criminalization of homelessness.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares all of the
3(a) According to the United States Department of Housing and
4Urban Development’s report to Congress, 115,738 people were
5estimated to be homeless in California in 2014, a rate that is
6unprecedented following a deep and prolonged economic recession,
7a severe shortage of safe and affordable housing, a failed veteran
8and civilian mental health system, and a diminished social safety
10(b) According to the United States Department of Education,
11284,086 schoolchildren were known to have experienced
12homelessness in the 2013-14 school year.
is an independent risk factor for a number of
14illnesses, making people more susceptible to increased health
15problems due to high stress, sleep deprivation, unsanitary
P3 1surroundings, lack of access to hygiene facilities, and a myriad of
2other situational stressors experienced by people without stable
3housing. Subsequently, people who are chronically homeless are
4more medically frail and three to four times more likely to die
5prematurely than their housed counterparts.
6(d) Throughout California, local governments have enacted
7ordinances that make it illegal to rest or receive nourishment in
9(e) Ending homelessness in California will require significant
10state and federal resources and there is ample evidence that policies
11that invest in ending homelessness, rather than criminalizing and
12marginalizing people who are experiencing homelessness,
13 adequately balance the needs of all parties: community residents,
14government agencies, businesses, and men and women who are
16(f) Passing this act will not reduce homelessness, but neither
17will local ordinances that criminalize homelessness. Instead,
18ordinances that criminalize homelessness result in increased
19incarceration rates and financial indebtedness of people who simply
20have no means of support and prolong homelessness by making
21it more difficult for people to secure housing, employment, and
22medical care. Criminalization policies further marginalize men
23and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory
24attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected
26(g) That is why, on September 18, 2015, the United States
27Department of Housing and Urban Development included in the
28annual Notice of Funding Availability for the Continuum of Care
29funding competition, provisions that would award additional points
30to any application that could include steps the community is taking
31to reduce criminalization of homelessness.
32(h) It is also why, on August 6, 2015, the United States
33Department of Justice submitted a rare statement of interest in a
34United States District Court in opposition to the criminalization
35of people who are homeless, calling it cruel and unusual
36punishment to punish someone for a crime with the potential for
37imprisonment and a violation of constitutional rights.
38(i) While these ordinances apply to all residents, they
39disproportionately impact people without homes, who have no
40private place to rest or seek nourishment, and are often selectively
P4 1applied by law enforcement to people based upon their appearance
2or an assumption of homelessness.
3(j) In practice, these ordinances deprive persons experiencing
4homelessness and those who may be perceived as homeless of a
5safe and legal place to rest and seek nourishment, which adversely
6impacts their health and well-being.
7(k) Sleep deprivation impairs cognitive processes and puts one
8at risk for obesity, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular
9heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
10People who are homeless suffer from sleep deprivation and, absent
11a place to rest, they suffer it more frequently.
12(l) Because current practices have denied the right to adequate
13legal representation to people cited or arrested while resting or
14sharing food, homeless persons are often denied relief or damages
15through the courts.
16(m) Both the federal government, through its Interagency
17Council on Homelessness, and the United Nations have recognized
18that discrimination and criminalization violate a homeless person’s
19human rights and have called upon state and local governments to
20cease enactment and enforcement of those laws.
21(n) Homelessness and the increasing criminalization of
22homelessness and discrimination against those experiencing
23homelessness are widespread throughout California and are matters
24of statewide concern.
25(o) Section 1 of Article I of the California Constitution provides
26that “[a]ll people are by nature free and independent and have
27inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life
28and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and
29pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy,” without
30qualification as to whether or not a person is, or appears to be,
32(p) Subdivision (a) of Section 7 of Article I of the California
33Constitution provides that “[a] person may not be deprived of life,
34liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal
35protection of the laws ... .”
36(q) Concordant with this fundamental belief, a person should
37not be subject to discrimination based on his or her income, housing
38status, or ability or desire to appear housed. Therefore, it is the
39intent of the Legislature in enacting this legislation to protect the
40rights of all Californians, regardless of their housing status, and
P5 1ameliorate the adverse effects caused by the criminalization of
2homelessness on our communities and our citizens.
3(r) Decriminalization of rest allows municipal governments to
4redirect resources from local enforcement activities to activities
5that address the root causes of homelessness and poverty.
Part 2.2 (commencing with Section 53.8) is added to
7Division 1 of the Civil Code, to read:
For purposes of this part, the following definitions shall
13(a) “Homeless persons,” “homeless people,” or “persons
14experiencing homelessness” means those individuals or members
15of families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime
16residence, including people defined as homeless using the criteria
17established in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid
18Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009.
19(b) “Motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle as defined in Section
20415 of the Vehicle Code.
21(c) “Public space” means any property that is owned by a
22government entity or any property upon which there is an easement
23for public use and that is held open to the public, including, but
24not limited to, plazas, courtyards, parking lots, sidewalks, public
25transportation facilities and services, public buildings, shopping
26centers, and parks.
27(d) “Recreational vehicle” means a recreational vehicle as
28defined in Section 18010 of the Health and Safety Code.
29(e) “Rest” means the state of not moving, holding certain
30postures that include, but are not limited to, sitting, standing,
31leaning, kneeling, squatting, sleeping, or lying.
(a) Persons experiencing homelessness shall be
33permitted to use public space in the ways described in this section
34at any time that the public space is open to the public without
35discrimination based upon their housing status, and without being
36subject to criminal, civil, or administrative penalties. Permitted
37use of the public space include, but are not limited to, all of the
39(1) Free movement without restraint.
P6 1(2) Sleeping or resting, and protecting onself from the elements
2while sleeping or resting in a nonobstructive manner.
3(3) Eating, sharing, accepting, or giving food in a space in which
4having food is not otherwise generally prohibited.
5(4) Praying, meditating, worshiping, or practicing religion.
6(b) Nothing in this section shall prevent law enforcement from
7enforcing laws to protect the right of people to use the sidewalk,
8pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C.
9Sec. 12101 et seq.).
10(c) Nothing in this section shall prevent law enforcement from
11enforcing the Penal Code, except subdivision (e) of Section 647
12of the Penal Code, so far as it prohibits rest.
(a) Any person whose rights have been violated pursuant
14to this part may enforce those rights in a civil action.
15(b) The court may award appropriate injunctive and declaratory
16relief, restitution for loss of property or personal effects and
17belongings, actual damages, compensatory damages, exemplary
18damages, statutory damages of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per
19violation, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to a prevailing
Section 11135 of the Government Code is amended
(a) No person in the State of California shall, on the
24basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion,
25age, sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information,
begin delete orend delete
26 disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal
27access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to
28discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted,
29operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is
30funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance
31from the state. Notwithstanding Section 11000, this section applies
32to the California State University.
33(b) With respect to discrimination on the basis of disability,
34programs and activities subject to subdivision (a) shall meet the
35protections and prohibitions contained in Section 202 of the federal
36Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132),
37and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation
38thereof, except that if the laws of this state prescribe stronger
39protections and prohibitions, the programs and activities subject
P7 1to subdivision (a) shall be subject to the stronger protections and
3(c) (1) As used in this section, “disability” means any mental
4or physical disability, as defined in Section 12926.
5(2) The Legislature finds and declares that the amendments
6made to this act are declarative of existing law. The Legislature
7further finds and declares that in enacting Senate Bill 105 of the
82001-02 Regular Session (Chapter 1102 of the Statutes of 2002),
9it was the intention of the Legislature to apply subdivision (d) to
10the California State University in the same manner that
11subdivisions (a), (b), and (c) already applied to the California State
12University, notwithstanding Section 11000. In clarifying that the
13California State University is subject to paragraph (2) of
14subdivision (d), it is not the intention of the Legislature to increase
15the cost of developing or procuring electronic and information
16technology. The California State University shall, however, in
17determining the cost of developing or procuring electronic or
18information technology, consider whether technology that meets
19the standards applicable pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision
20(d) will reduce the long-term cost incurred by the California State
21University in providing access or accommodations to future users
22of this technology who are persons with disabilities, as required
23by existing law, including this section, Title II of the federal
24Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101
25and following), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
26(29 U.S.C. Sec. 794).
27(d) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the ability to
28utilize electronic or information technology is often an essential
29function for successful employment in the current work world.
30(2) In order to improve accessibility of existing technology, and
31therefore increase the successful employment of individuals with
32disabilities, particularly blind and visually impaired and deaf and
33hard-of-hearing persons, state governmental entities, in developing,
34procuring, maintaining, or using electronic or information
35technology, either indirectly or through the use of state funds by
36other entities, shall comply with the accessibility requirements of
37Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
38(29 U.S.C. Sec. 794d), and regulations implementing that act as
39set forth in Part 1194 of Title 36 of the Federal Code of
P8 1(3) Any entity that contracts with a state or local entity subject
2to this section for the provision of electronic or information
3technology or for the provision of related services shall agree to
4respond to, and resolve any complaint regarding accessibility of
5its products or services that is brought to the attention of the entity.
6(e) As used in this section, “sex” and “sexual orientation” have
7the same meanings as those terms are defined in subdivisions
begin delete (q)
(r) of Section 12926.
9(f) As used in this section, “race, national origin, ethnic group
10identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, or
11disability” includes a perception that a person has any of those
12characteristics or that the person is associated with a person who
13has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics.
14(g) As used in this section, “genetic information” has the same
15definition as in paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 51 of
16the Civil Code.
Section 11139.2 is added to the Government Code, to
To improve monitoring of discrimination based upon
11housing status and violations of Section 11135, and to ensure that
12people who are experiencing homelessness are not unlawfully
13denied full and equal access to the benefits of state-funded
14programs or assistance, or unlawfully subjected to discrimination,
15all applicants for the United States Department of Housing and
16Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance
17Program shall annually provide to the Department of Housing and
18Community Development’s Division of Housing Policy
19Development a copy of its application for funding from the United
20States Department of Housing and Urban Development that
21includes the organization’s response to the application question
22regarding steps that its community is taking to reduce
23criminalization of homelessness.
If the Commission on State Mandates determines that
25this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to
26local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made
27pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division
284 of Title 2 of the Government Code.