Rhode Island Homeless Bill of Rights

Rhode Island Homeless Bill of Rights

Rhode Island just passed a Homeless Bill of Rights into law on June 21, making it the first state in the US to do so.  With so many states making laws against the homeless it is wonderful to see a state that values human rights and dignity; a state that understands that being homeless doesn’t make you any less of a human being.  Other states need to take notice, as the foreclosure crisis continues, wages remain stagnant, and the job outlook remains bleak the number of Americans finding themselves homeless will continue to increase.


The Rhode Island Law guarantees that homeless individuals:

  • Have the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to lack of a permanent mailing address or a mailing address that is a shelter or social service provider;
  • Have the right to use and move freely in public spaces (sidewalks, public parks, public transportation, public buildings) in the same manner as any other person and without discrimination on the basis of housing status;
  • Have the right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on housing status;
  • Have the right to vote, register to vote and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to housing status;
  • Have the right to protection from disclosure to law enforcement agencies without appropriate legal authority any records or information provided to homeless shelters and service providers and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with limitations on disclosure established by the Federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Federal Violence Against Women Act;
  • Have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.
  • Have the right to equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies, without discrimination on the basis of housing status.


Drawing by Jenna Clarahan


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