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Legislators and advocates in different parts of the country have come up with some concrete, practical ways to address the growing trend of violence against homeless people.  These models can be used to implement similar measures in other states and communities.



Senate Bill 1234, which was introduced in February of 2004 by State Senator Kuehl, became public law in September of the same year and went into effect in July of 2005.  It is now California Penal Code 13519.64. 

California Penal Code 13519.64:
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that research, including "Special Report to the Legislature on Senate Resolution 18: Crimes Committed Against Homeless Persons" by the Department of Justice and "Hate, Violence, and Death: A Report on Hate Crimes Against People Experiencing Homelessness from 1999-2002" by the National Coalition for the Homeless demonstrate that California has had serious and unaddressed problems of crime against homeless persons, including homeless persons with disabilities.

(b) (1) By July 1, 2005, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, using available funding, shall develop a two-hour telecourse to be made available to all law enforcement agencies in California on crimes against homeless persons and on how to deal effectively and humanely with homeless persons, including homeless persons with disabilities. The telecourse shall include information on multimission criminal extremism, as defined in Section 13519.6. In developing the telecourse, the commission shall consult subject-matter experts including, but not limited to, homeless and formerly homeless persons in California, service providers and advocates for homeless persons in California, experts on the disabilities that homeless persons commonly suffer, the California Council of Churches, the National Coalition for the Homeless, the Senate Office of Research, and the Criminal Justice Statistics Center of the Department of Justice.
(2) Every state law enforcement agency, and every local law enforcement agency, to the extent that this requirement does not create a state-mandated local program cost, shall provide the telecourse to its peace officers.



This law implements the recommendations of the Attorney General's working group regarding the advisability of implementing aggravating sentencing factors for crimes against persons who are homeless, which was established pursuant to Public Law 2005, chapter 393. The law amends the purpose section of the general sentencing provisions of the Maine Criminal Code by adding homelessness to the list of factors, such as the age, religion and sexual orientation of a victim that a court considers in determining the gravity of an offense in sentencing.

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 17-A MRSA §1151, sub-§8, ¶B, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 149, §1, is amended to read:
B.  The selection by the defendant of the person against whom the crime was committed or of the property that was damaged or otherwise affected by the crime because of the race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or homelessness of that person or of the owner or occupant of that property.



SB 211 was enacted in 2008. This bill added homeless status to an existing law creating more protection for vulnerable populations.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Alaska:
Section 1. AS 12.55.155(c)(5)
(5) the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim of the offense was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance due to advanced age, disability, ill health, homelessness, or extreme youth or was for any other reason substantially incapable of exercising normal physical or mental powers of resistance;



SB 151 was signed into law on May 7, 2009, by Governor O’Malley (D-MD). Upon signing, Maryland became the first state to non-discretionally include homeless people in its hate crimes law. The law is set to become effective October 1, 2009.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland, that the laws of Maryland read as follows:

Because of another’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender,
or national origin, or because another is homeless, a person may not:
(i) commit a crime against that person;
(ii) damage the real or personal property of that person;
(iii) deface, damage, or destroy, or attempt to deface, damage, or
destroy the real or personal property of that person; or
(iv) burn or attempt to burn an object on the real or personal
property of that person; or
(2) commit a violation of item (1) of this section that:
(i) except as provided in item (ii) of this item, involves a
separate crime that is a felony; or
(ii) results in the death of the victim.
A person may not deface, damage, or destroy, attempt to deface, damage, or
destroy, burn or attempt to burn an object on, or damage the real or personal property
connected to a building that is publicly or privately owned, leased, or used, including a
cemetery, library, meeting hall, recreation center, or school:
(1) because a person or group of a particular race, color, religious
belief, sexual orientation, gender, or national origin, or because a person or group that is homeless, has contacts or is associated with the building; or
(2) if there is evidence that exhibits animosity against a person or
group, because of the race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, or
national origin of that person or group or because that person or group is homeless



Puerto Rico passed legislation that was designed to give much needed support to homeless people. Encompassed in this law, is a section emphasizing that homeless people should not be discriminated against for any reason. Anti-discrimination will be addressed through the creation of a council (Multi-Sector Homeless Population Support Council) that will take action to support homeless individuals. It was approved September 27, 2007.

Due to the length and nature of the law, an excerpt is not available. Seek Puerto Rico’s Legislature page: http://www.oslpr.org/english/master.asp?NAV=LEYES. Search for Law 130.



Council Bill 116025 was signed by the Mayor of Seattle on December 13, 2007. This ordinance added homeless persons as a protected class to a standing city ordinance regarding malicious

Be it ordained by the City of Seattle as follows:
An ordinance relating to the criminal code and amending Section 12A.06.115:

A. A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she
maliciously and intentionally commits one (1) of the following acts because of his or her
perception of another person's gender identity, homelessness, marital status, political
ideology, age, or parental status:

1. Causes physical injury to another person; or

2. By threat places another person in reasonable fear of harm to his
or her person or property or harm to the person or property of a third person; provided however, that it shall not constitute malicious harassment for a person to speak or act in a critical, insulting, or deprecatory way so long as his or her words or conduct do not constitute a threat of harm to the person or property of another person; or

3. Causes physical damage to or the destruction of the property of another person.

B. "Threat" means to communicate, directly or indirectly, the intent to:

1. Cause bodily injury to another; or
2. Cause damage to the property of another; or
3. Subject another person to physical confinement or restraint.

C. For purposes of this section:
1.  "Gender identity" means a person's identity, expression, or
physical characteristics, whether or not traditionally associated with one's biological sex or one's sex at birth, including transsexual, transvestite, and transgendered, and including a person's attitudes, preferences, beliefs, and practices pertaining thereto.

2.  "Homelessness" means the status or condition of being without
a home, including, but not limited to, the state of living in the

D.  Every person who, in the commission of malicious harassment, shall commit any other crime, may be punished therefore as well as for the malicious harassment, and may be prosecuted for each crime separately.



In March of 2009, the Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution requesting the following from the Human Relations Commission: incorporate awareness of homelessness into high school and youth programs to encourage respect and humanization of the homeless, create trainings for law enforcement to investigate crimes against homeless people with an eye out for evidence of bias or discrimination against the victim due to disability, track crimes of hate against homeless people in the Commissions database and monitor trends to educate the community, encourage the Sheriff, District Attorney, and city/county prosecutors to track and report crimes against homeless people to help in developing actions to prevent and stop these violent acts, and finally to work with all Human Relations Commissions across the county to create better practices and data collection.

The Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors requests the Human Relations Commission to:
AGN. NO. 11
1.) Integrate the issues of prejudice and violence against the homeless into its zero hour human relations model high school initiative and its other youth projects to promote a greater understanding of how people become homeless, and to humanize the challenges of homelessness to counter the lack of respect and compassion;
2.) Include in all Commission hate crime trainings conducted for law enforcement professionals an emphasis on investigating whether a crime against a homeless person is motivated by discriminatory attitudes or bias against a disability, including mental or physical disabilities, and to track such crimes;
3.) Create a new category in the Commissions hate crime database for those targeting the homeless, and include such occurrences in the Commission’s annual hate crime report, in order to identify patterns in location, times, type of crime, and motivation, and notify law enforcement and community members of such trends;
4.) Request the Sheriff and District Attorney, as well as city/county prosecutors to track and report all crimes against the homeless, so as to be able to determine whether ant-homeless crime and violence is becoming more or less frequent, what types of crimes they are, and where they are taking place in order to assist efforts to develop strategies and actions to prevent and reduce such crime;
5.) Coordinate and communicate with Human Relations Commissions countywide to maximize any opportunities for collaboration;



On August 6, 2008 the Cleveland, OH City Council passed an ordinance dictating that repercussions for “intimidating” or harassing a homeless person due to their status would be more severe.

The City of Cleveland Codified Ordinance: 623.161 Intimidation of a Homeless Person:
Ord. No. 830-08

(a) As used in this Section, “homeless person” means either of the following:
(1) An individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate night-time residence;
(2) An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that meets any of the following criteria:
(i) A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations;
(ii) An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized;
(iii) A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular accommodation for human beings.
(b) No person shall violate Sections 2903.05, 2903.13, 2903.14, 2903.21, 2903.22, 2903.211, 2903.31, 2905.03, 2905.12, 2907.06, 2909.03, 2909.06, 2909.07, 2913.01, 2913.02 of the Revised Code or Sections 619.04, 621.01, 621.03, 621.04, 621.06, 621.07, 621.071, 621.08, 621.09, 621.14, 623.01, 623.02, 623.03, 625.01, 625.05 of the Codified Ordinances if the offender commits the violation with the intent to cause harm to any victim of the violation because that victim is a homeless person.
(c) Whoever violates this section is guilty of intimidation of a homeless person. Intimidation of a homeless person is an offense of the next higher degree than the offense the commission of which is a necessary element of intimidation of a homeless person. If the offense committed under section (b) is a misdemeanor of the first degree, Intimidation of a Homeless Person is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(Ord. No. 830-08. Passed 8-6-08, eff. 8-12-08)



Washington, DC City Council approved a bill adding homeless people to its hate crimes law.  It was signed into law by the Mayor on August 6, 2009.

CONTENTS: Main page | pdf of full report | Acknowledgements | Dedication | Executive Summary | Purpose, Methodology, and Previous Reports | Introduction | Historical Summary of Hate Crimes/Violence Data for 1999-2008 | Summary of Hate Crimes/Violence Data in 2008 | Summary of Teen/Young Adult Involvement in Hate Crimes/Violent Acts | Summary of Ages of the Accused versus Ages of the Victims | Summary of Victims Who Were Middle-Aged | Cities where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Map of Cities where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | States where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Map of States where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Cities Where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred – 1999-2008 | Map of Cities Where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred – 1999-2008 | Comparison of Hate Crime Homicides vs. Lethal Attacks on Homeless Individuals | National Media Coverage of Hate Crimes/Violent Acts Against Homeless People | Video Exploitation of Homeless People | Recognizing Anti-Homeless Violence as Hate Crime, by Brian Levin | Legislation | Recommendations for Action | Model City/County/State Legislation/Resolutions | Adopted City/County/State Legislation/Resolutions | Public Education Initiatives | Listing of Incidents by City | Case Descriptions Involving Deaths | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Rape/Sexual Assault | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Setting on Fire | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Beatings | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Shootings | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Police Harassment/Brutality | Appendix A: Sources | Appendix B: NCH Hate Crimes Public Service Ads |



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