It’s been more than a month since 700 people were forced out of the homeless shelter on Long Island because the bridge to get there was deemed structurally unsound. The evacuation was so hasty most residents were forced to leave their personal belongings behind.  

The city still hasn’t provided alternative housing, and as more time goes by, patience is growing thin. A protest last week was followed by a tense public meeting where homeless residents and advocates demanded solutions.  

All this is drawing attention to the way the city and state manage the local homeless population. Last year, legislation to enact a so-called Homeless Bill of Rights was filed on Beacon Hill. It included safeguards against employment discrimination, access to medical care, privacy protections, and even guaranteed the right to vote. That bill has languished in the legislature, but it could get more traction now. 

Julia Tripp studies social policy at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School. She was once homeless herself.

Robyn Frost is the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, the group that proposed the Homeless Bill of Rights.