On Monday, the Jacksonville City Council’s Neighborhoods, Community Development, Public Health, and Safety committee deferred the “Homeless Bill of Rights,” legislation that could codify civil rights for the city’s dispossessed populations.
Ordinance 2018-308, filed by currently-suspended Councilwoman Katrina Brown, contends that “the basic rights all people should enjoy must be guaranteed for homeless individuals and families,” and attempts to “assure that basic human rights are not being trampled simply because someone happens to be homeless.”
The bill would guarantee the right to move freely for homeless people, as well as rights to be “protected by law enforcement,” to prayer, to voting, to quality emergency health services, to “occupy” legally parked cars, and to have a “reasonable expectation of privacy over personal property,” at homeless camps and the like.
The right to live in one’s car and the protection of personal property, said a city lawyer, are currently the ones not protected by municipal code.
Those proved to be the sticking points.
Councilman John Crescimbeni noted with concern that the bill could be used to justify homeless camps in public parks.
Council President-designate Aaron Bowman likewise questioned the efficacy of the legislation.
The National Coalition for the Homeless has pushed for this legislation, and Councilwoman Brown’s bill aligns with the goals of that organization.