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Mobtown Beat

Council bill would make homeless a “protected class”

The bill would protect homeless people from discrimination in applying for jobs or housing.

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Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke (14th District) introduced a bill to protect homeless people from discrimination in applying for jobs or housing.

“It amends several sections of the city code, the most important being the community-relations sections,” Clarke says. The bill was introduced April 8. It adds “housing status” to the list of protected classes barred from discrimination. “It’s a new protected class of people under the code.”

Clarke says the bill, 13-0209, was prompted from recent things she’s heard and seen. “It actually came from my mind and experience,” she says. “No one asked for it. I have perceived an attitude among some people about the status of homeless people.”

Citing the recent clearance of a homeless encampment across from the Fallsway shelter as an example of the attitudes she’s perceived, Clarke suggested those attitudes are also present on the council. “Two members were on it [as sponsors] and then I explained it. They crossed their names off,” Clarke says. “That tells me a lot.”

She declined to say which members crossed off their names. Not listed as sponsors are James Kraft (1st District), Brandon Scott (2nd District), Rochelle Spector (5th District), Nick Mosby (7th District), and William H. Cole IV (11th District).

Clarke says it took a decade and three tries to make sexual orientation a protected class in the city. Of homeless status, she says, “I hope that it would be self-evident that it’s a protection that is deserved and needed. I don’t at all take it for granted.”

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