Media Advisory
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123
February 16, 2007

Sen. West and Rep. Naishtat file bill to protect the homeless

AUSTIN -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) joined State Representative Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) in filing legislation to protect homeless persons from hate crimes. SB 536 and HB 1360 will add "homelessness" to the Texas hate crimes statute thus increasing penalties of criminals found guilty of attacking homeless individuals. Current law offers such protections for people based on race, color, disability, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, or sexual preference.

"Approximately 44% of homeless individuals sleep without any form of shelter, making them vulnerable to violent 'hate-driven' attacks. It is my intent, as it should be our responsibility as a body of lawmakers, to do what is necessary to protect our most vulnerable citizens from senseless acts of violence," said Senator West. "It's the right thing to do."

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless since 1999, 613 violent attacks and 189 deaths of homeless persons occurred across 44 states. In Texas, 36 violent attacks and 6 deaths of homeless persons have been reported over that same period.

"While several other states have taken steps to decrease hate crimes against the homeless, Texas should be the leader on curbing this disturbing trend", said Representative Naishtat.

Senator West and Representative Naishtat will hold a Joint Press Conference on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 1:00pm in the Lt. Governor 's Press Conference Room, 2E.9.

For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass or Lauren Doss at 512.463.0123(Sen. West) or Nancy Walker at 512.463.0668(Rep. Naishtat)