D.C. Councilmember Wants to Make Homelessness a Protected Class

Although overall homelessness in the District fell more than 10 percent from 2016 to 2017, it's no secret that homeless people still face significant barriers to employment, housing, education, and other spheres. That's why At-Large Councilmember David Grosso proposed a new bill today that would make being homeless a protected class under the D.C. Human Rights Act, which broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, and income source.

The legislation would simply add homelessness to the law's list of almost 20 protected traits and allow the homeless to bring legal complaints with the District, possibly resulting in civil penalties, compensatory damages, or reinstatement of jobs. Typically, homelessness is defined in D.C. as not having a "fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence," including those sleeping on the streets, in cars, and in shelters. The council is also considering sweeping changes to its primary homeless services law, which officials say would bring D.C.'s definition of homelessness in line with federal guidelines. FULL ARTICLE