Posts Tagged ‘hygiene’

UN Expert: Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S is Cruel and Inhumane

Friday, August 26th, 2011

For Immediate Release – – GENEVA, CH – Today, in an official report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a top UN investigator said that the United States’ failure to provide homeless persons access to water and sanitary facilities “could […] amount to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.”  The report was issued by UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque.


“The Rapporteur’s report is the latest in a series of condemnations by international experts of the criminalization and mistreatment of homeless persons in the U.S.,” said Eric Tars, human rights program director at the National Law Center on Homelessness  Poverty (Law Center), which helped facilitate her visit. “Earlier this year, the U.S. committed itself before the Human Rights Council to doing more to protect the rights of homeless persons. Where is the action to follow the words?”

Ms. de Albuquerque visited the U.S. in February and March 2011, and was struck by the “extraordinary lengths” homeless persons had to go to just to remove bodily wastes.  During a visit to the Safe Ground tent community near Sacramento, California, she met a man who called himself the community’s “sanitation technician.”  The man, “Tim,” engineered a sanitation system consisting of a seat overtop a two-layered plastic bag.  Every week, Tim collects bags of human waste, weighing anywhere from 130 to 230 pounds, and hauls them on his bicycle several miles to a public restroom.  When a toilet becomes available, he empties the contents of the bags.  Following the disposal, he secures the dirty bags in a clean one, which he then places in the garbage, before washing his hands with water and lemon.

He said the job is difficult, but that he does it for the community — especially the women.

Ms. de Albuquerque’s report states: “The United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, must ensure that everyone [has access] to sanitation which is safe, hygienic, secure […] and which provides privacy and ensures dignity. An immediate, interim solution is to ensure access to restroom facilities in public places, including during the night. The long-term solution to homelessness must be to ensure adequate housing.”

In June 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness adopted its first-ever comprehensive plan to end homelessness, including a section promoting constructive alternatives to criminalization. However, the criminalization of homelessness by communities persists, and to date, the Justice Department and other agencies have done little to convey the unconstitutionality of these practices to local policymakers.

“This adds to a growing record of both domestic and international law stating that homeless persons cannot be criminalized for basic life-sustaining acts when the community provides no legal alternative,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the Law Center.  “But ultimately, we must remedy this situation because we, as Americans, believe that no person deserves to be treated this way.”

The Rapporteur’s Report is available at:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-33-Add4_en.pdf .

It will be officially presented to the Human Rights Council at their session next month.

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The National Law Center on Homelessness  Poverty’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement.


Eric Tars
Human Rights Program Director/
Children & Youth Staff Attorney
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
1411 K St., N.W.
Suite 1400
Washington, D.C. 20005
Home office: (215) 392-0298 (primary)
Main office: (202)638-2535
Fax: (202) 628-2737
Email: etars@…
www.nlchp.org
wiki.nlchp.org

 

Life Bein’ A Homeless in Eugene, OR

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

When we first arrived in Eugene we was only going to stay for about a week, then we was headed back to California to settle down. It has been two months now and we are still here in Eugene.

I thought being homeless here would be like it was everywhere else “hard and uneasy.” But it’s not like I expected, it’s better. There are so many opportunities and resources for us homeless it’s incredible. Here in Eugene they have feeds downtown Monday thru Thursday at a diner that serves three sides, which is actually very good food and the people who volunteer are really nice people who take four hours out of their own day four days a week just for us homeless. That should only show that not all people think only of themselves but of others too!

On Saturday at twelve a group of people get together at Washington Jefferson to feed not only homeless but everyone. On Friday the church feeds, so unlike bein’ in California with very little ways to keep from bein’ hungry, Eugene has the best sources for homeless that keeps us striving for another day. Most everyone thinks bein’ homeless means that you’re a dirty and unhealthy bum, but that would be the largest judgment on homeless anyone could ever make. Us homeless in Eugene have almost more resources to keep our hygiene to its max. For example, homeless have the Mission who not only lets us shower but also lets you get clothing and tennis shoes almost when needed. We have the Service Station, which feeds you and also lets you shower, and on top of that, they have washers and dryers, which to me as a homeless is very thankful for the opportunity to be able to experience bein’ homeless in Eugene.

People ask why I chose to settle down in Eugene and I tell them that, because of all the resources, Eugene has inspired me to not just want to better myself but Eugene makes me feel like I have to. That if I can do it anyone can and that is what I feel I should do for myself as a homeless. I want the people who does for the homeless to be able to see me one day soon and be able to say I knew you could do it, all you need was opportunity and encouragement from others. That what I hope for myself is to achieve what I’ve been striving for 27 years of my life, freedom from being under judgment.

By Michelle Gunn