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Housing & Homelessness

‘Right To Rest’ Bill Fails To Advance In Oregon Legislature

HomelessCamp01.jpg
Brian Bull
/
KLCC

Oregon lawmakers have failed to advance a bill that would give unhoused people the right to remain in public places without being told to move along.

  

Advocates call it a “right to rest” law. The idea is that people who don’t have a permanent roof over their heads can pitch their tent in a public space such as a park or sidewalk without fear of being told to move or face arrest.

 

Heather Sielicki of Eugene’s White Bird Clinic said the bill is meant to help people in those situations avoid fines or criminal records that compound their problems.

“It’s a way to help keep people who are forced to live in public from being treated with the criminal justice system," she said. "It's not a bill that gives people the right to leave trash or agressively panhandle. It's just a law that will make it legal for people to move freely, rest, sleep, protect themselves from the elements, and eat and share food. Pretty much basic acts of survival."

Siliecki said the pandemic has heightened the need for safe places for people to sleep. "With the housing shortage that we have now, there needs to be more places where people can legally put their car or RV, or pitch a tent," she said. "We just don't have enough places right now."

The “right to rest” bill died in an Oregon House committee. But a separate measure that aims to set a higher bar for local governments to regulate people experiencing homelessness was approved by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.