News Brief: Rep. Pignatelli champions homeless bill of rights

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By Friday, Dec 23 News  4 Comments
Courtesy of The Boston Homeless Project
Boston winter as experienced by a homeless man.

Pignatelli calls for passage of homeless bill of rights

Boston — With less than two weeks to go before the Massachusetts legislature ends its current two-year session, Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, is leading an effort to pass H.1129, “An Act to Establish a Homeless Bill of Rights.” On Wednesday, he delivered a letter cosigned by more than 60 of his colleagues to Rep. Brian Dempsey, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Pignatelli is the lead sponsor of the bill, which seeks to create guiding principles for how municipal and state agencies and other entities treat people who are experiencing homelessness and to decrease discrimination based on homelessness status. The bill outlines certain rights that should be enjoyed by all residents of the Commonwealth regardless of housing situation and homelessness status such as the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to privacy of personal records, the right to private property, and the right to receive medical care. Pignatelli has been working with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless since 2013 to create this bill of rights.

The letter was endorsed by 62 legislators from across the Commonwealth, including Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, the assistant vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. Coalition members and allies have been calling, emailing, and visiting legislators, to encourage House and Senate members to actively work for passage of the bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness.


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4 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Steve Farina says:

    It is a sad state of the human condition that we must lay out specific guidelines on how to treat our neighbors regardless of their level of affluence. Albeit, this seems an important piece of legislation to bring attention to the needs and rights of the homeless segment of our communities.
    Truth be told, about 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are one unexpected financial burden away from facing this situation themselves.
    This would be a good bill to pass.

    1. Smitty says:

      Well said Steve. Sad but necessary. Thanks for your support.

  2. Laury Epstein says:

    It’s particularly heartwarming to read about this at this time of year, when kindness and generosity to others is emphasized.

  3. Eve Schatz says:

    Thank you, Smitty, this should help close the catch 22 for homeless people who can’t get a job until they have a home address and can’t get a home until they get a job.

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Elsie Margaret Pope, 88, of Lenox

Monday, Feb 27 - Elsie spent countless hours attending her sons’ sporting and school events, and even helped them with some of their earliest jobs, including paper routes.

Edward Thomas ‘Ned’ Forrest, 79, of Pittsfield

Monday, Feb 20 - Prior to his military service he was assistant basketball and baseball coach at Lenox School where he also assisted in coaching varsity football and JV soccer, and was Athletic Director at Berkshire Country Day School.

Jack Spencer of Stockbridge, beloved teacher, mentor

Monday, Feb 20 - Jack was a remarkably caring and brilliant man who lived his life with humor, heart and humility. He loved being a husband to Judy, father to Ann Marie and Kathy, brother to us, grandfather to Emily, Amanda, Kristen and Eric, and teacher and mentor to more than 45 years of students at The Plain School and Monument Mountain Regional High School.