HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 3764        FILED ON: 1/18/2019

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 150

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Liz Miranda and Rebecca L. Rausch

_________________

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
Court assembled:

The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act relative to the safety, dignity, and civil rights of persons experiencing homelessness.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Liz Miranda

5th Suffolk

Rebecca L. Rausch

Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex

Mike Connolly

26th Middlesex

Nika C. Elugardo

15th Suffolk

Carlos González

10th Hampden

Tami L. Gouveia

14th Middlesex

Natalie M. Higgins

4th Worcester

David Henry Argosky LeBoeuf

17th Worcester

Jay D. Livingstone

8th Suffolk

Elizabeth A. Malia

11th Suffolk

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

David M. Rogers

24th Middlesex

Thomas M. Stanley

9th Middlesex

José F. Tosado

9th Hampden

Bud L. Williams

11th Hampden


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 3764        FILED ON: 1/18/2019

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 150

By Representative Miranda of Boston and Senator Rausch, a joint petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 150) of Liz Miranda, Rebecca L. Rausch and others relative to the rights of persons experiencing homelessness.  Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 

_______________

In the One Hundred and Ninety-First General Court
(2019-2020)

_______________

 

An Act relative to the safety, dignity, and civil rights of persons experiencing homelessness.

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

SECTION 1. Chapter 45 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 1 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 1. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

(a)“Housing status” means a person’s current ability to access a fixed, regular, or adequate nighttime residence.

(b)“Park'” shall include a city or town common dedicated to the use of the public, or appropriated to such use without interruption for a period of 20 years.

(c)“Persons experiencing homelessness” means persons who lack, or are perceived to lack, a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Persons experiencing homelessness includes but is not limited to persons who:

(1)share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason;

(2)live in motels, hotels, trailer parks or campgrounds due to the lack of fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;

(3)live in emergency or transitional shelters;

(4)are abandoned in hospitals;

(5)are awaiting foster care placement;

(6)have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

(7)live in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations or similar settings; or

(8)are transient and otherwise experiencing homelessness as described in this subsection.

(d)“Public space” means any real property that is owned, in whole or in part, by the Commonwealth or any municipality, or upon which there is an easement for public use, and is held open to the public. Public space includes but is not limited to plazas, courtyards, parking lots, sidewalks, public transportation facilities and services, public buildings, and parks. Public space does not include a private business establishment.

(e)“Recreational vehicle” has the meaning given that term in section 20 of chapter 90B of the general laws.

(f)“Rest” means the state of sleeping or not moving or the state of holding certain postures that include but are not limited to sitting, standing, leaning, kneeling, squatting or lying on the ground or other surface.

(g)“Town” shall not include city.

SECTION 2. Chapter 45 is hereby further amended by inserting after Section 25 the following section:

Section 26. Rights of Homeless Persons

(a)Persons experiencing homelessness shall have the right to:

(1)use public spaces in the same manner as any other person without discrimination based on their housing status;

(2)a reasonable expectation of privacy in any personal property belonging to the person, regardless of whether the personal property is located in a public space;

(3)interact with public officials, employees, and officers without harassment on the basis of their housing status;

(4)rest in public spaces and seek protection from adverse weather in a manner that does not obstruct human or vehicle traffic;

(5)eat, share, accept, or give food in any public space in which having food is not prohibited;

(6)pray, meditate, worship, or practice religion in public spaces without discrimination based on housing status; and

(7)occupy a motor vehicle or a recreational vehicle, provided that the vehicle is legally parked on public property or on private property with the express permission of the private property owner.

(b)The provisions of subsection (a) of this section pertaining to public spaces shall not apply if the public space is closed to the general public or requires a fee for entry. When practicable, public officials, employees, or officers shall clearly designate and provide an appropriate alternative place for persons experiencing homelessness to rest without time limitations in the near vicinity.

(c)It shall be an affirmative defense to a civil claim or criminal charge related to use of public spaces that a person experiencing homelessness was exercising any right set forth in this section.

SECTION 3.  Section 1 of chapter 50 is hereby amended by inserting after the last sentence the following sentence:-

Lack of a fixed, permanent residence for a person experiencing homelessness shall not prohibit voter registration.

SECTION 4.  Section 1 of chapter 151B of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-

24. The term “housing status” shall be defined as a person’s current ability to access a fixed, regular, or adequate nighttime residence.

SECTION 5. Section 3 of chapter 151B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word “information” in line 20 the following words:-  “, housing status”

SECTION 6. Section 3 of chapter 151B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word “persons”, in line 56, the following words:- “; persons who have experienced homelessness”.

SECTION 7. Section 3 of chapter 151B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word “information”, in line 66, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 8. Section 3 of chapter 151B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word “origin”, in line 87, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 9. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by inserting after the word “information”, in lines 5, 74, 89, 93, 102, 113, 147, 174, 192, 242, 250, 260, 360, 371, 376, and in each instance, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 10. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by inserting after the word “age” in line 181 the following words:- “housing status”.

SECTION 11. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by inserting after the word “information”, in lines 192, 242, 250, 260, 360, 371, 376, and 383, and in each instance, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 12. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by inserting after the word “origin”, in lines 513 and 523, and in each instance, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 13. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by inserting after the word “origin”, in lines 702 and 712, and in each instance, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 14. Section 4 of said chapter 151B is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:

20. It shall be unlawful discrimination for any employer, employment agency, labor organization, or licensing agency to refuse to hire or employ, represent, grant membership to, or license a person on the basis of that person's housing status or having a mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider, or to terminate or refuse to renew a person's employment, representation, membership, or license on the basis of that person’s housing status.

SECTION 15. Sections 63 through 69 of Chapter 272 of the General Laws are hereby repealed.

SECTION 16. Section 92A of chapter 272 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word “nationality”, in line 9, the following words:- “, housing status”.

SECTION 17. Section 98 of said chapter 272, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “origin”, in line 3, the following words:- “, housing status”.