THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS
The City of Knoxville shall make no law, nor enforce any existing laws, that discriminates based on a person’s housing status. This includes those who do not have a fixed or regular residence, including those who live on the streets, in a shelter, or in a temporary residence.
The City of Knoxville shall make no law that denies or abridges the inalienable right of a person experiencing homelessness to carry out or perform life-sustaining activities in public spaces.
Inalienable rights specific to persons experiencing homelessness shall include, but are not limited to:
Storing, protecting and maintaining personal belongings
Occupying shelter from the elements
Making use of fire
Performing necessary body functions
Eating and drinking
Making a request for monetary assistance for the purpose of preserving life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
No privately owned and operated place of public accommodation within the city of Knoxville shall deny full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, and facilities to a person based on their housing status. Nor shall the rights, privileges, or access to public services within the city of Knoxville be denied nor abridged based on a person’s housing status.
Every person, regardless of housing status, has the following rights:
(1) the right to use, rest, and move freely in public spaces, including but not limited to public sidewalks, public parks, public land, public transportation, and public buildings. And the right to temporarily reside in public spaces.
(2) the right to rest, sleep, or use for the purposes of shelter any motor vehicle provided that it is legally parked on public property;
(3) The right to use public and city owned space as temporary living spaces when there are no other options available;
(4) the right to access public restrooms and discretely exercise necessary bodily functions if no restroom is available;
(5) the right to equal treatment by all municipal agencies;
(6) the right to employment including sales on the street of legal products and services without burdensome insurance or other regulations provided such sale or service poses no significant danger or obstruction of sidewalk or roadway; and the right not to face discrimination while maintaining employment due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider;
(7) the right to medical care without prejudice including mental health care;
(8) the right to vote, register to vote, and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to his or her housing status;
(9) the right to protection from disclosure of his or her records and information provided to homeless shelters and service providers to municipal, and private entities without appropriate legal authority; and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with all limitations on disclosure established by the federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the federal Violence Against Women Act;
(10) the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy for his or her personal property to the same extent as a person has in a permanent residence including the right to set down or leave at rest personal property in public spaces without harassment as long as that personal property does not maliciously or substantially obstruct a passageway, or cause a public security threat. Should the property be confiscated, the owner of the property has from the time it is seized to within 30 days to reclaim the property. If the property is damaged or destroyed, its owner has the right to fair value restitution.
(11) the right to collect, within 24 hours, personal property stored on private ground when the owner of the land expresses a desire for the personal property to be removed. If the property is damaged or destroyed within the 24 hour timeframe, its owner has the right to fair value restitution.
All persons have the right to perform voluntary acts of compassionate assistance including but not limited to:
(1) the right to provide religious services for those in public spaces, and the right of those in public spaces to pray, meditate, or practice religion in the same manner as any other person;
(2) he right to give food or water to others, and the right to eat, share, and accept food and water in public spaces;
(3) the right to give shelter or assist those in need by helping them find shelter, and where no affordable shelter can be found, assist them in getting to pubic spaces where they have the right to move freely and rest without harassment or intimidation in the same manner as other persons.
These rights are secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America including, but not limited to, the following amendments: 1st (free exercise of religion and freedom of speech), 4th (protection against unreasonable search and seizure), 8th (cruel and unusual punishment) 14th (due process and equal protection), and 15th (the right to vote). They are also grounded in the Declaration of Independence.
July 4th, 2017
The Knoxville Homeless Collective