The Compassionate Assistance and Right to Exist Act (CARE) before the Tennessee legislature this session has a real chance to improve how those experiencing homelessness are treated and facilitate our ability to help people in need. But time is of the essence if we hope to make a difference.
The proposed CARE act, aims to do 5 things: (1) protect the rights of faith groups and other organizations seeking to assist people experiencing poverty and homelessness; (2) protect everyone’s right to life and liberty, and prioritize the safety of everyone on our streets by focusing on people who commit crimes rather than those who are participating in acts of daily living like sitting, sleeping, or simply existing in public; (3) save taxpayers and the State of TN money by reducing needless jail and court costs; (4) remove obstacles to stability that un-housed people often endure such as the loss of property, IDs, and driver’s licenses, barriers to employment, and unpayable fines, court costs, and jail time; and (5) ensure that the State of TN addresses homelessness as an economic and social issue and not a criminal one.
The CARE Act (HB2430/SB2453), sponsored by Rep. Mike Stewart and Sen. Ophelia Ford, is likely to come up before the House Civil Justice Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, March 26th. If we can get as many as 500 letters to state senators and representatives, ideally contacting them directly as well, we believe this bill might very well become law. Not a large number, but it only happens if we sit down and do it. Please encourage others you work with to join us. Here is a link to find out who your senator or representative is: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/ . Mailed personal letters get the most attention, but email can be effective, especially if you know your representative personally. To be effective, your email or letter should be received by Tuesday, March 25th.
We can make a difference, but only if we try.