After years of voluntarily helping police keep his neighborhood safe, Donald "Shortstack" Oliver has earned a roof over his head.
Homeless for three years, the Marysville, Calif., resident has assisted police in keeping a crime-prone cemetery safe, FOX 40 reports. In an effort to restore old gravesites, and prevent further vandalism, the Marysville Cemetery Commission recently named Oliver its primary caretaker and is giving him a nearby city-leased trailer in exchange for his work.
"It's like a step up for me because I've been homeless,” Oliver told the news outlet. “I got something to do now that's worthwhile.”
While Oliver has found refuge near a graveyard, homeless people in Oregon are started to seek out shelter in parking lots.
As part of the Portland/Multnomah County Overnight Sleeping Pilot, churches in the area are beginning to offer those who live in cars the opportunity to stay overnight in their parking lots, KPTV reports.
Moreland Presbyterian Church was the first to step up to offer its lot in May and would be required, under the proposal, to give access to water, sanitary facilities and trash disposal.
While these examples are heartening, Heather Johnson -- a civil rights attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty –- told the Associated Press that her organization has noticed a dramatic increase in laws around the country prohibiting panhandling, sleeping outdoors or loitering.
To help raise the bar for the treatment of homeless people, Rhode Island recently passed the first-ever “Homeless Bill of Rights,” the AP reports.
The new law prohibits governments, police, healthcare workers, landlords or employers from discriminating against homeless people because of their housing status.
"Now we're a leader in something," state Sen. John Tassoni told the news outlet. "Hopefully other states will now pick up the slack and move this all the way across the country to California."