Homelessness is a serious and solemn issue here in the United States: Full stop. We are a nation that should be, and largely is ashamed of our inability to curb the tide of this sort of poverty, and there are plenty of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are tireless in their efforts.
But not all lawmakers are seeing the forest for the trees. In fact, there seems to be a rather profound misunderstanding of the situation in Oregon, where lawmakers are looking to apply a bizarre bit of legal leverage to the condition of homelessness itself.
A newly proposed law in Oregon would allow the homeless to sue municipalities for as much as $1,000 per violation as part of a new initiative to decriminalize homelessness.
Sponsored by Beaverton-area Democratic Representative Farrah Chaichi, House Bill 3501—otherwise known as the “Right to Rest Act”—would allow anyone experiencing homelessness to use public spaces in “the same manner as any other person” without discrimination for their housing status, including the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy even if they are living in a public space.
Those experiencing homelessness would also be protected from “harassment, citation or arrest” by local police, public or private security personnel, or even employees of local governments—a proposal Chaichi said is an effort to end the practice of punitive policing against those just because they are poor.
The consequences certainly were not insignificant.
Those found in violation of the law would be subject to compensatory damages or $1,000 per violation, “whichever is greater,” along with a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000.
The move doesn’t represent any real effort to assist the homeless, however, and instead acts as a sort of litigious socialism in which the Have Nots are suing the Haves for simply having.
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