Homelessness and the right to survive | Letter

Do homeless persons have a constitutional and civil right to occupy and use public spaces for purposes that endanger the health, general welfare and safety of the public at large without being subject to the laws that apply to everyone else? Some members of the Legislature think so.

HB 1591 grants “homeless persons” a constitutional and civil right to survive and live on the streets. “Homeless” street people are viewed as victimized by society and discriminated against because of their transient housing status. In reality, many of the homeless street people living in the midst of piled up garbage, discarded needles and human waste are mentally ill and addicted to drugs. See, e.g., KOMO 4 TV news broadcast, “Dying in Seattle” and “Seattle Under Siege,” in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal by Christopher Rufo.

HB 1591 prohibits state agencies, counties and cities from enforcing laws that prohibit the possession and use of illegal street drugs, punishing crimes committed by “homeless” street people against persons and property and using public property as bathrooms and garbage disposals.

The right to survive is meaningless if realistic innovative solutions are not available for the medical and psychiatric treatment, counseling and rehabilitation of the homeless who live on the streets. Providence, Rhode Island has shown that these practical solutions are successful and are capable of reintegrating the homeless into society.

If you believe that Washingtonians have the right to use public spaces in urban, rural and recreational areas free from harassment, violence, crime and intimidation and reasonably expect the state to use its police powers non-discriminatively to protect your safety, general welfare and public health, please contact your legislative representatives as soon as possible and urge them to “vote no” on HB 1591.

Susan Friedman

Redmond

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