October 08, 2009
CARDIN, COLLINS INTRODUCE BILL TO QUANTIFY HATE CRIMES AGAINST HOMELESS
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced legislation to track the number of hate crimes committed against homeless persons to help determine just how pervasive such crimes may be . Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) joined as original co-sponsors of the bill, the Hate Crimes Against Homeless Statistics Act.
Currently there is no uniform law enforcement reporting on violent acts against homeless persons. While national homeless organizations are tracking these crimes, there is no consistent data on the depth of the problem. Attacks reported range from beatings, death, arson, rape and more. Victims have included men, women, children, veterans and the elderly. Approximately 3.5 million people a year are likely to experience homelessness in America.
"Homeless people are part of America. Every day, we see veterans, fathers, mothers, children and families who have been forced by circumstances to live on the streets. They are among our Nation's most vulnerable, but too frequently they find themselves the target of violent crime simply because they are homeless. This behavior should not and cannot be tolerated in our society," Senator Cardin, a member of the Judiciary Committee said. "This bill will help determine what, if any, resources and tools are needed by local communities and law enforcement to protect our citizens from such senseless, bias-motivated violence."
"This bill would add an additional data element to the FBI's uniform reporting system regarding crimes committed against homeless. The homeless are one of the most vulnerable segments of our population and it is important that we assess the degree to which this is an issue," Senator Collins said.
"Hate crimes, by their nature, perpetuate prejudice, hatred, and division. This legislation will allow federal officials to track and research crimes that are motivated for no other reason than the individual or family is homeless," said Senator Brown. "The data collected will help ensure all members of our community receive full protection by the judicial system and law enforcement officials,"
"The homeless of America are too often left out and left behind. They are veterans of our wars, mothers, grandchildren, and more. They are often our most vulnerable citizens, and we have an obligation to protect them," Senator Mikulski said. "This bill will help us get the facts about how frequently our homeless are being targeted for these crimes, and where - and this will help us combat these heinous crimes."
"Homelessness is a tragic circumstance faced by far too many Americans ," said Senator Whitehouse. "A better understanding of their plight will result from data we wish to see gathered by the Department of Justice."
"America's homeless are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society, but this bill will make sure that the horrible acts committed against them aren't swept under the rug," said Schumer. "The perpetrators of these crimes must be punished but we also must seek to prevent future occurrences. This act is important to studying how widespread this problem is, and should help our law enforcement officials better protect these Americans."
The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 requires the Department of Justice to collect data from law enforcement agencies about "crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based upon race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity." In 1994, Congress expanded coverage to require reporting on crimes based on disability. Data collection provides the needed information to policy makers, law enforcement, and communities so they can make informed decisions on how to best proceed with the problem presented to us. The Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Ac t will again expand coverage by adding "homeless status" to the list of categories required to be reported on by the Department of Justice. Data collection is the best way to measure the level of bias-motivated crimes.
The following national and regional organizations from 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have endorsed the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act and have called for prompt passage of this important legislation.
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Americans for Democratic Action
American Psychological Association
Assn of University Centers on Disabilities
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Catholic Charities USA
Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Ctrs
Coalition on Human Needs
Give Us Your Poor
Helen Keller National Center
Hip Hop Caucus
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center on Family Homelessness
National Coalition on Deaf-Blindness
National Congress of Black Women
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Network for Youth
National Organization for Victim Assistance
Presbyterian Church USA, Washington Ofc
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Southern Poverty Law Center
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United States Veterans Initiative
Universal Living Wage Campaign
Women of Reform Judaism
The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring
Federation of Southern Cooperatives
YWCA Central Alabama
Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness
Ecumenical Chaplaincy for the Homeless
The Giving Tree Outreach Program
National Lawyers Guild - Central Arizona Chapter
Primavera Foundation, Inc.
Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless (TPCH)
Arkansas Homeless Coalition
Arkansas Supportive Housing Network
The King's Outreach
Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County
Dolores Street Community Services
Friends of Prado Day Center
Interfaith Shelter Network
Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center
Los Angeles Mission
St. Mary's Center
Greeley Transitional House
Habitat for Humanity of Estes Valley
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Denver
Beth-El Center Inc.
Collaborative Center for Justice, Inc.
St. Luke's LifeWorks
District of Columbia:
Charlie's Place at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church
One In Ten
SOME, Inc. (So Others Might Eat)
Center for Independent Living of South Florida, Inc.
Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Inc.
Coalition for Independent Living Options,
Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/ Haitian Women of Miami, Inc.
Florida Consumer Action Network
Florida Keys Outreach Coalition
Haven Drop In Center, Inc.
Miami Coalition for the Homeless, Inc.
Monroe Association of Remarkable Citizens
Pax Christi Northeast Florida
Southernmost Homeless Assistance League
Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority
Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
Living Room, Inc.
Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance (AHHA)
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
Hesed House, Inc.
Public Action to Deliver Shelter
Haven House Services, Inc.
Bio Logistics LLC
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Northern Kentucky
UNITY of Greater New Orleans
Hope Haven Gospel Mission
Advocacy and Training Center
Homeless Persons Representation Project
Immanuel United Church of Christ
Public Justice Center
Students Sharing Coalition, Inc.
United Evangelical Church, UCC
United Ministries, Inc. / Earl's Place
Independent Living Center of the North Shore & Cape Ann, Inc.
Somerville Homeless Coalition, Inc.
Gateway Community Services
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs
Elim Transitional Housing, Inc.
Fargo Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons, Inc.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Integrated Community Solutions, Inc.
Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless
Residents for Affordable Housing
Simpson Housing Services, Inc.
Springfield Victory Mission
Family Promise of Gallatin Valley
The Joseph Residence at Maclay Commons
Poverello Center, Inc.
SASA Crisis Center
New Hampshire Council of Churches
New Hampshire Homeless
New Horizons for New Hampshire, Inc.
Atlantic City Rescue Mission
DIAL Inc.- Center for Independent Living
NEXT STEP: People with Disabilities for Social and Economic Justice
Pride Connections Center of New Jersey
New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness
Association for Community Living
Saint Peter Damian Fraternity
Transitional Living Services of Onondaga County, Inc.
YWCA of Binghamton & Broome County
Action for Children North Carolina
Bethesda Center for the Homeless
Charlotte Emergency Housing
Good Work Inc.
Wilmington Interfaith Hospitality Network
Minot Area Homeless Coalition
North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People
Cleveland Tenants Organization
Columbus Coalition for the Homeless
Domestic Violence Center
GLBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless
Neighborhood House Assn of Lorain County
Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Inc.
Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries
Oregon Law Center
Union Gospel Mission of Portland
Epiphany of Our Lord Parish
Just for Jesus Challenge Homeless Outreach
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Typed Wood Street Commons
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Pittsburgh
Manos al Servicio de la Comunidad
Crisis Ministries of South Carolina
Interfaith Homeless Network
Nashville Homeless Power Project
House the Homeless, Inc.
National Organization for Women, North Dallas Chapter
Crossroads Urban Center
Salt Lake Community Action Program
Arlington Street People's Assistance Network
Doorways for Women and Families
United Way of Roanoke Valley
Valley Mission, Inc.
Council for the Homeless of Clark County
Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League
YWCA Clark County
Hands of Faith of Beloit
Madison-Area Urban Ministry
Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless
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