The Glory Hole homeless shelter pictured in July 2017 is a downtown Juneau homeless shelter and soup kitchen. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Glory Hole homeless shelter pictured in July 2017 is a downtown Juneau homeless shelter and soup kitchen. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: It’s time for a Homeless Bill of Rights

We have a moral imperative to protect the civil and human rights of every American.

  • Thursday, August 29, 2019 7:33pm
  • Opinion

Years of research and advocacy around the criminalization of homelessness and increasing violence committed against people experiencing homelessness has shown that added protections are needed to preserve their civil rights. Camp abatement policies remain cruel and traumatizing as individuals who are experiencing homelessness are relentlessly forced to migrate throughout the city.

Anchorage has a history of ineffective and cruel policies towards individuals experiencing homelessness. Although the American Civil Liberties Union argued and won that individuals experiencing homelessness have the same rights as everyone else and camp raids violate property rights, many individuals still lose vital personal items and identification or have them confiscated in the current abatement process. Replacing those items is costly and navigating through complicated bureaucracy is dehumanizing. Without ID people are prevented from accessing necessary services, employment and permanent housing. Continual abatements actively disrupts the efforts of people to transition out of homelessness.

Camp abatement ordinances are not meaningful solutions. Instead, they create a vicious cycle that harms people. Nothing is accomplished except the illusion of a solution that temporarily appeases the housed community and business owners.

In response, individuals who are experiencing homelessness are working with other community members to adopt a Homeless Bill of Rights and a Right to Rest Act. These rights insist that individuals experiencing homelessness are protected against segregation, granted privacy, guaranteed opportunity to vote and to feel safe in their community, provided with broad access to shelter including permanent encampments, social services, legal counsel and quality education for children of homeless families.

People need protection and time to help engage productively with solutions. As a society, we have a moral imperative to protect the civil and human rights of every American. The time is now to adopt a Homeless Bill of Rights and a Right to Rest Act.

Dana Dardis

Anchorage resident and small business owner

Justina Beagnyam

Anchorage resident and Tri-Chair and organizer for the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Jacob Poindexter

Anchorage resident and senior minister for First Congregational Church of Anchorage


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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