Advocates for the homeless in California say people who live on the street are often arrested and harassed for simply staying in one place. The advocates held a rally in front of the state Capitol today to call for legislation that would allow the homeless to rest in public spaces, among other things.
Angel McClain is currently homeless.
"We'd walk the streets all day. We’d walk all night," she says. "We had nowhere we could sit in peace and rest. Rather we were exhausted, about to fall. If you sit down the police would harass you and you’d have to move."
A new study from the UC Berkeley School of Law looked at regulations regarding the homeless in 58 cities. It found at least 500 laws limiting where the homeless can rest, sleep, panhandle and share food.
Paul Boden is with the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which supports the homeless. He says these laws criminalize basic human behavior.
"All of us, regardless of our skin color, regardless of our economic status, and regardless of our housing status, every single one of us is going to violate these laws. But only some of us are going to go to jail for it," he says.
The Berkeley study found California cities have more anti-homeless laws than cities in other states.