Beginning in February, it will be illegal to sit, lie down, or panhandle within 6 feet of the edge of a building downtown. This law, however, will only be in effect between 7 AM and 10 PM, allowing the homeless to seek shelter under the awnings at night. People will also be allowed to obtain permits for busking within the 6 foot zone.
So the law isn't as bad as it could have been. It doesn't ban necessary survival functions for the homeless. But that doesn't make it good.
My good friend and fellow Bread & Roses community member, Rob, offered this explaination of what makes the new law bad:
The city is STILL taking the sidewalk away, and telling homeless people that they can rent parts of it if they can play an instrument, and that they can use it after all the normal people are tucked away in their beds. That's telling someone they can't be a part of the community if they don't have something to offer. That's wrong.The law is still segregationist. It still limits the poor, who as a class are defined by social marginalization, from participation in community.
We need to stop this law from going into effect. There are a number of organizers who are now looking into the possibility of dragging the new law through the referendum process. We'll be looking at opportunities for litigation.
Mostly, though, we've got to work even harder at empowering and enfranchising the homeless.
For more information on anti-homeless laws around the nation, visit the National Coalition for the Homeless.