D.C. bill to add homeless protected class under Human Rights Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A D.C councilmember wants to make homeless people a protected class under the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977.

The bill, called the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2017, was introduced by At-Large Councilmember David Grosso.

"It’s very important to me that we recognize that homelessness is an issue in the District of Columbia where discrimination takes place and that we need to stop that," said Grosso. "Like in the past, we’ve run into problems where homeless folks have been told, you need ID to get in that building, when anyone else who comes up to the building didn’t need ID."

The amendment was named after Michael Stoops, a long-time advocate and volunteer with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

Megan Hustings, the director of the NCH, said homeless discrimination usually flies under the radar.

"Especially visibly homeless, kind of fitting that stereotype are considered as less than citizens, less than human in a lot of ways," said Hustings. She added that advocates feel this amendment is the best starting point because it would give the city the ability for enforcement.

Grosso said he hopes that through the hearing process on the bill, he will be able to add the language for a full bill of rights for homeless individuals giving them even more protection.