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Getting ByEconomic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income$
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Helen Hershkoff and Stephen Loffredo

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190080860

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190080860.001.0001

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Rights in Public Spaces

Rights in Public Spaces

(p.731) 8 Rights in Public Spaces
Getting By

Helen Hershkoff

Stephen Loffredo

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the rights of low-income persons, including those who “look poor” or homeless, to travel, to become members of a community, and to use public spaces, such as streets, parks, libraries, and post offices. Many localities have adopted “quality of life” regulations that restrict and even criminalize acts that are innocent when done in the privacy of one’s home, such as sleeping or eating, but become illegal when done in public. The chapter sets out the constitutional right to travel from state to state and within a state, and describes the practical and legal barriers that exist to the actualization of that right, such as the absence of public transportation or not having money to buy a car. Attention is given to the constitutional status of residency requirements and how they impact efforts to obtain better housing and schooling. It explores permissible limits on rights to use public spaces, and protections that may be invoked in many typical encounters with the police, such as demands for identification cards or the seizure of possessions temporarily left in a park. Practical advice is given about library services and mail delivery, as well as how to get licenses for commercial activities that make use of public spaces, including street vending.

Keywords:   public places, sleeping in public, begging, street vending, public toilets, post office boxes

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