left bar
top bar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Michael Stoops
Executive Director
National Coalition for the Homeless
202.482.4622 (phone)
mstoops@nationalhomeless.org           
www.nationalhomeless.org

National Coalition for the Homeless Urges Congress to Include Homeless People in Federal Hate Crimes Laws


Washington, DC, June 25, 2009 – The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) urged Congress to protect people experiencing homelessness under federal hate crimes laws. NCH made its recommendations in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. That legislation improves federal hate crimes laws, including the addition of gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity as new protected categories.

Citing a body of evidence that homeless people are continuing to be selected intentionally as victims of crime due to their status as homeless, NCH recommended that homeless status be included in federal hate crime statistics and enforcement laws. Among recent hate-motivated incidents that NCH cited in its statement were the 2008 deaths of homeless men set on fire in Los Angeles, beaten in Cleveland, struck by hatchet in the District of Columbia.  “Crimes against people experiencing homelessness such as documented above are rightly understood to be hate crimes, and accordingly should be classified as such for purposes of hate crime data collection and for enhanced penalties at sentencing,” said NCH Executive Director Michael Stoops.

NCH enthusiastically endorsed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act and companion legislation approved earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives. However, NCH urged Congress to use the bill as the vehicle for adding homeless people to federal hate crimes laws, saying that there was “no substantive rationale why their addition can not be accomplished” through this legislation.
NCH’s full statement is available for viewing and download at www.nationalhomeless.org.

The National Coalition for the Homeless, founded in 1982, is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to ending homelessness. Additional information about NCH is available at www.nationalhomeless.org.

-- END --

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Michael Stoops
Executive Director
National Coalition for the Homeless
202.482.4622 (phone)
mstoops@nationalhomeless.org           
www.nationalhomeless.org