Congressional candidate Kathryn Xian is sponsoring state legislation to enact a Houseless Person’s Bill of Rights,” introduced by Vice Speaker John Mizuno as House Bill 1889. Xian’s proposal would contravene municipal crackdowns on homelessness, which include sweeps that confiscate homeless people’s private property and attempts to limit access to public space.
“We need to both uphold justice and maintain democracy. With the recent criminalization of the houseless and passage of city ordinances eroding the basic civil rights of our neighbors in poverty, we have put democracy in the backseat and dangerously established the legal sanction of a class of people based on lack of income,” said Kathryn Xian.
To date, the City and County of Honolulu has spent more than $330,000 enforcing sidewalk nuisance regulations that went into effect last year, despite the recent recognition by federal courts that homeless people’s property is protected by the Constitution’s due process and the Fourth Amendment’s privacy guarantees.
“Between 2004 and 2008, the City of San Francisco, spent $9.8 million on incarcerating the houseless, which succeeded only in wasting taxpayer dollars. These laws did not solve their houseless issues nor did it increase public safety. We must not follow their mistake. We need proven solutions to address poverty reduction, including raising the minimum wage, offering tax relief to low-income workers and families, and investing in public education,” said Xian.
Xian also believes that the measure advances Hawaii’s fight against human trafficking by affording homeless and runaway youth the rights needed to stave off exploitation.
“Many of our child survivors of trafficking are houseless youth. Criminalizing their vulnerability is not only immoral, but unconstitutional. Who will speak out for these children when the government proceeds with hurtful sweeps in blind persecution of their plight?” asked Xian.
House Bill 1889 is currently referred to the Human Services Committee and Finance Committee.