WCIA-TV Champaign: Homeless Bill of Rights to help end discrimination

SPRINGFIELD – Homelessness can be a vicious cycle. It’s tough to get out of it without a job, and it’s tough to land a job when you have no place to live. But the state is trying to break that pattern. WCIA-3’S Steve Staeger keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

A new law will create a new bill of rights for people without a place to live. The goal is to help them get a job, so they will have a roof over their head.

Lafayette Glenn’s life is on a familiar sad loop.

“I’ve been dealing with homelessness on-and-off for about seven years; partially mismanagement of funds, partially some personal issues I’ve been dealing with.”

He can’t find a job, so he can’t put a roof over his head. Now, he’s trying for a bed at a homeless shelter.

“It’s like a stigmatism,” Glenn said. “Because a lot of people feel like when you’re dealing with homelessness, you’re labeled like the scum of the earth and that’s not true.”

Many homeless people are part of that cycle.

“The only cure for homelessness is a home. And the only way to receive a home is to have a job.”

But many employers refuse to hire the homeless, simply because they’re homeless, they have no permanent address.

“It’s been a long time coming for the fight for homeless people who’ve been discriminated against,” Glenn said.

But that discrimination stops now. The governor gave the green light to a new Homeless Bill of Rights. It won’t allow employers to discriminate based on housing status.

Linda Gessaman with Homeless United For Change says its a huge step.

“These people are just people and they need the discrimination to stop in order to become better citizens.”

Lafayette hopes his job search will benefit.

“It’s not like something that you’re proud of being. I’m not proud of being homeless. I’m trying to dig myself out of this hole I’ve gotten myself in.”

The bill also ensures the homeless have the right to vote and receive emergency medical care when they need it.