SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has obtained a proposal by South Bend Common Councilwoman Lori Hamann (D) that would punish businesses and limit law enforcement responses when dealing with the growing homeless problem within the City of South Bend. Hamann is proposing adding the status of being “homeless” to the Protected Classes of Persons under South Bend’s Human Rights Ordinance.
While the proposal may sound good on the surface, it would open law enforcement and local businesses up to legal liability and lawsuits when dealing with homeless people and vagrants loitering on property or harassing customers and staff.
Currently, race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity and familial status are protected under the Human Rights Ordinance. Meaning, nobody can be discriminated against in regard to “education, employment, access to public conveniences and accommodations” based on those traits. Hamann’s proposal to add the homeless would force businesses to accommodate some homeless who consistently panhandle and harass their customers out of fear that they may face fines or lawsuits. Law enforcement officers will also face challenges in dealing with calls involving the homeless, as their actions could be construed as “discriminatory.”
The proposal has to pass the Health and Public Safety Committee before being heard by the entire Common Council.
You can read her proposed changes to the ordinance below.
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