Several weeks ago, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) proposed a sweeping set of protections for the homeless that have sparked almost as much controversy as the homeless themselves.
The Homeless Person's Bill of Rights and Fairness Act, as AB 5 is titled, would guarantee the homeless the right to live in public much as other people do in their homes. They could sit, sleep, move about and engage in "life-sustaining activities that must be carried out in public spaces because of homelessness," such as eating, urinating and collecting trash to recycle. Under the bill, they could not be forced into shelters, but would have access to them. It also mandates that public bathrooms be available around the clock and protects the "basic human right" to panhandle.