Do the homeless need a Bill of Rights?
R.I. Gov. Chafee signs first-in-nation 'homeless bill of rights'
R.I. Gov. Chafee signs first-in-nation 'homeless bill of rights' By Philip Marcelo
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Governor Chafee has signed legislation providing Rhode Island with a first-in-the-nation "homeless bill of rights" to protect people who are homeless from discrimination in employment, emergency medical care, use of public spaces, voting and in dealings with state, city and private agencies.
According to the Assembly, the legislation, S-2052, will guarantee that "no person's rights, privileges or access to public services will be denied solely because he or she is homeless."
Among things it spells out in law:
— The right to seek and keep a job even if a person does not have permanent housing
— The right to use public spaces such as sidewalks, public parks, public transportation, public buildings
— The right to emergency medical care free from discrimination
— The right to vote and register to vote
The homeless have the same rights as everybody else, no more, no less.
One thing that sticks out bolder than the rest is "The right to emergency medical care free from discrimination."
Have we discriminated? I think not. I know not. That it is even insinuated in the language of the law is an abomonation.
Considering the homeless population in Providence and everywhere else in America that I'm aware of has recieved emergency medical care free from discrimination since the advent of emergency medical care, it is extremely insulting that the language even made it into the bill. EMS does not discriminate. When people need us, we deliver. Period. We deliver them to the nations emergency rooms, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to those facilities annually. If anybody understands the plight of the destitute and homeless it is the emergency medical services, both on the streets and in the ER's. Perhaps I'm a little touchy on the subject, but things like this that go under the radar of the people responsible for writing and implimenting law, and those who report on it tarnish the image of EMS and the people who provide the services, day in and day out.
Prior to the bills passage, police objected to a line that spoke specifically to equal treatment by law enforcement, replacing that with the more appealing to the homeless advocates line "by all state and municipal agencies."
Where was our voice when the bill was being debated? Did anybody notice? Did nobody care?