To: Duluth City Council and Mayor Don Ness

Establish a Duluth Homeless Bill of Rights

WHEREAS the Declaration of Independence holds these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; and

WHEREAS the number of people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota and within the City of Duluth is at an all-time high, with children and youth comprising nearly half (46% ) of the state’s homeless population*; and

WHEREAS the lack of affordable, accessible and supportive housing is the primary cause of homelessness, with forty-one percent of homeless adults on waiting lists for subsidized housing and an average wait time of one year*; and

WHEREAS poverty and homelessness negatively affect the welfare of individuals as well as the community at large by creating divisions among people, dimming prospects for our youth to achieve in school and in the workplace, and increasing demand for emergency food, housing, medical and law enforcement services; and

WHEREAS current responses to homelessness have been inadequate, leading to generational poverty, aggravated mental health problems and substance abuse, and increasing numbers of Duluthians forced to live in emergency shelter, on the street or in substandard conditions; and

WHEREAS the epidemic of homelessness in the United States is a modern phenomenon that can be successfully addressed through public policy, such as Veterans Administration outreach and housing efforts that have significantly reduced homelessness among military veterans nationwide**; and

WHEREAS the people of Duluth, Minnesota recognize that discrimination because of homelessness adversely affects the welfare of individuals and the functioning of democracy, and that housing for all should be a policy priority for our City;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED it is the public policy of the City of Duluth that it is not a crime to be homeless and that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself or herself and of his or her family, including food, clothing and housing; and

BE IT RESOLVED the City of Duluth establish by ordinance a Homeless Bill of Rights to secure for all persons freedom from discrimination in education, employment, public services, public accommodations, movement, worship, speech and participation in the democratic process regardless of housing status; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED the City of Duluth establish by ordinance a Commission to End Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty to secure the fundamental economic and social rights of all Duluthians.

*2012 Minnesota Homeless Study, Wilder Research
**US Department of Veterans Affairs

Why is this important?

More Duluthians are homeless or at risk of homelessness than ever before. As a community we need to come together to find solutions. The Bill of Rights will be presented to City Council on January 13th.