Oregon bill would allow homeless to “rest”, use public space freely

Salem, Ore. – A proposed bill could allow homeless people in Oregon the right to rest, eat, pray and live in a motor vehicle or R.V. on public property.

House Bill 2215 would establish the “Oregon Right to Rest Act.”

The bill’s chief sponsors are Rep. Carla Piluso (D-Grehsam) and Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland).

The text of the bill grants the following rights (with some exceptions) to all Oregonians, though there is particular focus on those experiencing homelessness:

  • To use, move and rest in public spaces freely.
  • To occupy a motor vehicle or recreational vehicle parked on public property, as long as the vehicle is legally parked.
  • To rest in public spaces and seek protection from weather (in a way that does not obstruct public rights-of-way.)
  • To eat, share, accept or give food in any public space where it’s not otherwise prohibited.
  • To practice religion in public spaces.

A similar bill that was introduced to the Oregon Senate in 2015 failed in committee, according to a Statesman Journal report.

Advocates said that bill would protect people who were subjected to discrimination bases on their housing status, but opponents said the bill could be interpreted as granting special rights to homeless people.

According to the bill, “Decriminalization of rest allows local government to redirect resources from local law enforcement activities that address the root cause of homelessness and poverty.”

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