Chapter 23B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 30 the following section:-
Section 31. (a) The general court finds and declares that:
At the present time, many persons have been rendered homeless as a result of economic hardship, a severe shortage of safe, affordable housing and a shrinking social safety net.
(b) For purposes of this section, “experiencing homelessness” shall mean the status of having or not having a fixed or regular residence, including the status of living on the streets or in a homeless shelter or similar temporary residence.
(c) No person's rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is experiencing homelessness. Such a person shall be granted the same rights and privileges as any other resident of the commonwealth. A person experiencing homelessness shall have:
(1) The right to use and move freely in public spaces, including, but not limited to, public sidewalks, public parks, public transportation and public buildings, in the same manner as any other person, and without discrimination on the basis of his or her experiencing homelessness;
(2) The right to equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies, without discrimination on the basis of his or her experiencing homelessness;
(3) The right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider;
(4) The right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on his or her experiencing homelessness;
(5) The right to vote, register to vote and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to his or her experiencing homelessness;
(6) The right to protection from disclosure of his or her records and information provided to homeless shelters and service providers to state, municipal and private entities without appropriate legal authority; and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with all limitations on disclosure established by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Federal Violence Against Women Act; and
(7) The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.
(d) The rights contained in subsection (c) shall serve the same purpose as a statement of legislative intent that will help guide the department and other state and municipal agencies to promote the rights of those experiencing homelessness. These principles shall not be interpreted to create a private right of action, to form the predicate for a right of action under any other state or federal law or to create liability that would not exist absent the foregoing principles.
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