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U.S. Senate to Hold Historic Hearing on Homeless Civil Rights Issue

The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, held a hearing entitled “Crimes Against America’s Homeless: Is the Violence Growing?” on Wednesday, September 29, 2010.  The featured topic of the hearing was the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act (S. 1765), legislation introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that would direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation to gather data on bias-motivated crimes against people experiencing homelessness.

This hearing advanced NCH’s legislative agenda significantly and is an important step forward on the path to Bring America Home. After some research, we believe this hearing to be the first held by the United States Congress that specifically and exclusively addresses a homeless civil rights issue. NCH was given the privilege and responsibility of recommending witnesses for the hearing.

NCH urges our members and supporters to be part of this historic hearing:

Why you should support the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act of 2009:

Over the past eleven years, advocates and homeless shelter workers from around the country have received news reports of men, women and even children being harassed, kicked, set on fire, beaten to death, and even decapitated. Since 1999, the National Coalition for the Homeless has issued an annual report on hate crimes against the homeless. During this time, our network of advocates has tracked and 1,074 acts of violence committed by housed individuals, resulting in 291 deaths of homeless people and 783 victims of non-lethal violence in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.

This year’s report gained more national media attention than ever before. As crimes grow in both number and severity, NCH’s ability to accurately capture the true universe of offenses is challenged. From the beginning, NCH’s reporting sought to present simply examples of a much larger undefined national tragedy.  

You should support the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act because it’s truly a thoughtful and measured first step towards better understanding crimes against the homeless. Your support may ensure the accurate and timely collection of crime statistics, gathered by law enforcement, and used to define a deadly problem that cries out for resolution and prohibition.

Elected officials understandably pay attention to issues that matter most to their constituents. Your support of this legislation would clearly and compassionately communicate to your senator and representatives that homeless people and their issues matter and deserve to be counted.     

Watch this 60 Minutes video by the late Ed Bradley on the disturbing trend of violence against the homeless.

About the Hearing:

  • Thank you to all who attended, followed or watched the hearing! Special thanks to those who gave tesitmony in favor of the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act, including The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Brian Levin - Associate Professor California State University, Simone Manning-Moon Decatur - sister of Norris Gaynor, and Commander Richard Wierzbicki of the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

  • Watch the hearing:
    The United States Senate website has archived live webcasts of Senate hearings, watch the webcast on the Senate's website.

National Coalition for the Homeless
2201 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20037-1033

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