By Sarah Roy

Student from Cleburne High School, Tabitha Lane, attended the Youth and Government State Conference where she presented her legislative bill addressing the lack of rights and immoral criminalization of the homeless population. She found faults in how homeless people are treated and segregated from the rest of society based on their quality of life and took to this perspective when creating her bill months prior. Through the presentation of her bill, she expressed her concern over what she considered a moral dilemma while displaying her passion over the, often overlooked, issue.

Lane uncovered many concerns with the way homeless people are treated in her bill, a major concern being their lack of rights. There are laws in areas that discriminate against their quality of life, prohibiting them to panhandle and beg for money, regardless of that being their only source for income, and they are also searched and seized by officers unrightfully of their belongings, often including any form of identification, they may have. This takes away opportunities from them due to the fact that many places, such as shelters, require a form of identification at the least. Laws and treatment such as these have completely pushed them out of society, ultimately resulting in their segregation being a social normality because we as people have grown accustomed to viewing them negatively.

“It’s sickening to see that as humans we indulge in our own comfortability and completely turn a blind eye to people who live in the streets while we’re comfortable in our homes. It’s one of the most inhumane things that we do and have accepted in our society. They [homeless population] have potential just like any other person, they just don’t have the resources to obtain that,” said Lane.

Provisions were made to address this as the bill would protect the rights of homeless people to utilize any public facility as long as they commit no unlawful laws. This would include public sidewalks, public parks, public transportation and public buildings. Another provision made covered the quality of the shelters provided to the homeless. These shelters do come with barriers such as safety concerns, rules and regulations, health concerns, eligibility identification and mental health concerns.

“It’s the equivalent of sleeping on the streets, just with more cushion and as ironic as it seems, investing so much money into homeless shelters is detrimental,” stated Lane.

Lane found issues with the shelters offered because often they are not up to par for a substantial form of living and it’s also not enough to continue to provide homeless shelter after homeless shelter, especially those that only offer one night of residence, as it is not solving the issue, but rather fueling it to continue. Ideally, shelters should be providing the homeless with security to allow them the time necessary that it takes to get back on their feet.