Today, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson introduced the Violence Against the Homeless Accountability Act of 2013 (VAHA). VAHA includes bias-motivated attacks against homeless individuals as a category within the uniform crime statistics collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for the purposes of hate crimes reporting.
Current federal hate crimes reporting standards categorize hate crimes as a crime where a victim is selected based on his/her actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
"Before we can solve the problem, we must understand the problem," said Congresswoman Johnson. "This legislation is desperately needed if we are to send the message that homeless individuals are not out of sight and out of mind."
"As it stands today, we must rely on third-party organizations to track the severity and scope of attacks on our homeless. These organizations simply do not have the resources to collect complete data. VAHA would put the resources of the federal government behind the collection of reliable data on violent attacks against homeless individuals all across the country."
The Violence Against the Homeless Accountability Act of 2013 has gained the support of twelve original cosponsors, and is endorsed by the National Coalition for the Homeless.