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End Discrimination Against the Homeless

In 2014, The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), in conjunction with George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, conducted a study entitled “Discrimination and Economic Profiling among the Homeless of Washington, DC”. Roughly 93% of those surveyed reported they had been discriminated against because of their homeless status. This includes discrimination in accessing the supports necessary to end homelessness, such as employment, health care, and housing.

There is significant evidence that discrimination against people experiencing homelessness is a reality in the District. In one alarming instance, a homeless individual reported that after being stabbed, a paramedic accused him of seeking emergency care simply to avoid the rain. Other persons shared stories of being denied employment or housing because they were unable to provide a recent mailing address and/or used an address of a DC homeless shelter on their initial application.

Currently, there is no law that prohibits the discrimination reported by homeless people in the District, and no legal redress afforded to them for unfair treatment. Over the past year, a coalition of nonprofits and formerly/currently homeless advocates has worked to get DC City Council to add “homelessness” as a protected class under the DC Human Rights Act of 1977. The amendment would not give homeless people special rights. Instead, it would help to ensure that homeless people have equal rights by preventing discrimination against them in housing, employment, education, and places of accommodation.

The Mayor and the City Council have recently demonstrated a commitment to end homelessness in DC with the adoption of the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ (ICH) Strategic Plan, Homeward DC, and significant investments into the development and preservation of affordable housing (among other efforts). In order for these efforts to be effective, we must address and stand strongly against the discrimination of homeless persons.

To date, 52 local and national organizations have signed on to this letter requesting that DC City Council ensure the protection of human rights for all DC residents, regardless of homeless status. Additionally, more than 500 District residents have signed this petition requesting the same.

Recently, Madison, Wisconsin led the nation in establishing homelessness as a protected class. If “homelessness” is added as a protected class under the DC Human Rights Act, the District will become the second jurisdiction in the U.S to make it unlawful to discriminate against homeless individuals in housing, employment, public accommodations, and educational institutions.

Will you join SOME in standing for the protection of human rights for all DC residents, regardless of homeless status?

Organization Sign On      Individual Sign On

For more information, please contact Senior Advocacy Specialist, Samantha Davis at [email protected].

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