Thursday, August 30, 2012
Rhode Island has enacted a state law which outlaw discrimination against the homeless. Among the important provisions, homeless individuals have the following rights:
• The right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to lack of a permanent mailing address or a mailing address that is a shelter or social service provider.
• The right to use and move freely in public spaces (sidewalks, public parks, public transportation, public buildings) in the same manner as any other person and without discrimination on the basis of housing status.
• The right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on housing status.
• The right to vote, register to vote and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to housing status.
• The right to protection from disclosure to law enforcement agencies without appropriate legal authority any records or information provided to homeless shelters and service providers and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with limitations on disclosure established by the Federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Federal Violence Against Women Act.
• The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.
• The right to equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies, without discrimination on the basis of housing status.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein