RI homeless bill of rights praised as US model

Advocates for the homeless say states across the nation should look to Rhode Island as a model for protecting the homeless from discrimination.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (CHAY'-fee) and proponents celebrated the enactment of the state's new homeless bill of rights Wednesday.

The new law prohibits governments, police, healthcare workers, landlords or employers from treating homeless people unfairly because they lack housingof their housing status.

No other state has passed such comprehensive legislation.

Heather Johnson, an attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, says many American cities have criminalized homelessness by prohibiting panhandling, sleeping outdoors or loitering.

Johnson says other states should follow Rhode Island's lead by prohibiting such laws.