SECTION 1: Chapter 23B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 31. The general court finds and declares that: No person's rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because they are 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 the right to:
(1) 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 experiencing homelessness;
(2) Equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies, without discrimination on the basis of experiencing homelessness;
(3) Be free from discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to the lack of a permanent mailing address, or a mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider;
(4) Access emergency medical care free from discrimination based on experiencing homelessness;
(5) Vote, register to vote, and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to experiencing homelessness;
(6) Protection from disclosure of 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 applicable 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) A reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property.
For purposes of this section, “experiencing homelessness” shall mean the status of not having a fixed, regular, or adequate nighttime residence, including the status of living on the streets, in a homeless shelter, in a similar temporary residence, or in situations as described in the federal Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, § 103(a), 42 U.S.C. § 11302(a).
The rights in this section shall serve as a statement of legislative intent that will guide the department of housing and community development, state and municipal agencies, and agencies contracting with the state to promote the rights of people experiencing homelessness. These principles shall not be construed to create a private right of action, or form the predicate for a right of action under any other state or federal law, or to create liability that would not exist absent these principles.
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