A Homeless Bill of Rights (Revolution)


Sara Rankin


This Article examines an emerging movement so far unexplored by legal scholarship: the proposal and, in some states, the enactment of a Homeless Bill of Rights. This Article presents these new laws as a lens to re-examine storied debates over positive and social welfare rights. Homeless bills of rights also present a compelling opportunity to re-examine rights-based theories in the context of social movement scholarship. Specifically, could these laws be understood as part of a new “rights revolution”? What conditions might influence the impact of these new laws on the individual
rights of the homeless or the housed? On American
rights culture
and consciousness?
The Article surveys current efforts to advance home
less bills of
rights across nine states and the U.S. territory of
Puerto Rico and
evaluates these case studies from a social movement
Ultimately, the Article predicts that these new law
s are more likely to have an incremental social and normative impact than an immediate legal impact. Even so, homeless bills of rights are a critical, if slight, step to advance the rights of one of the most vulnerable segments of contemporary society. Perhaps as significantly, these new laws present an opportunity for housed Americans to confront our collective, deeply-rooted biases against the homeless.


Sara Rankin, “A Homeless Bill of Rights (Revolution),” I4E: Housing4All Digital Library, accessed July 23, 2024, https://i4e.omeka.net/items/show/58.

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