The Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico recognizes that homeless persons are an integral part of our society, for which reason they are protected by certain inalienable rights which guarantee their integrated development, as any other citizen and resident of Puerto Rico.
The services guaranteed through the following declaration shall be rendered as established by the public policy, as set forth in this chapter, through coordination with entities which include municipal governments and the central government and its government agencies, nonprofit community entities, faith-based entities, and the private sector.
(a) Rights of the homeless.— The rights and benefits hereby guaranteed are:
(1) The right to receive shelter which is adequate and suitable for human habitation, with the appropriate toileting and restroom facilities, within a safe environment of dignity and respect.
(2) The right to receive nourishment services, three meals a day, with adequate diets, as well as the nutritional or vitamin supplements necessary to ensure their health and well-being.
(3) The right to receive medical attention in its preventative, clinical, and rehabilitative and interventional phases, as well as attention in the area of mental health and related services, including the opportunity of having available diverse alternatives in detoxification and treatment programs for conditions associated with substance abuse and mental health, according to the specific characteristics of the individual who requests the service.
(4) The right to receive orientation and to have effective access to all public social services and benefits for which they qualify, and to have the assistance and support needed to obtain, including but not limited to:
(A) Integrated health services;
(B) government financial and nutritional aids, and
(C) emergency shelters, or transitory or permanent housing.
(5) The right to receive orientation, assistance, training and retraining, in order to enable the homeless to become a part of the workforce.
(6) The right to receive protection from law enforcement officers against any kind of mistreatment or abuse of their bodily or mental integrity, threats, or debasing or discriminatory acts.
(7) The right to the following benefits and services:
(A) To receive legal orientation free of charge.
(B) To being provided a postal address free of charge to receive mail.
(C) To have access to complementary services, such as support groups, and sectarian and nonsectarian counseling, taking into account their individual preferences, etc.
(D) To specialized therapy.
(E) To recreational and cultural activities, among others.
(8) The right to have free access to town squares, parks and all other public facilities, except those that due to the nature of their use, are deemed to be private property or free access thereto is not allowed or poses a risk to the life and safety of homeless or other persons.
(9) The right to have access to juridical services that ensure greater protection and care.
(10) The right to receive training in strategies on how to obtain financial resources and to the promotion of initiatives directed to encouraging efforts leading to self-management and self-sufficiency.
The Council, through the Department of the Family and as approved by Council members, shall establish expeditious mechanisms for the purpose of identifying possible violations of the rights of homeless persons, as established in the preceding declaration of rights.
(b) Processing of petitions or complaints.— The Secretary of the Department of the Family is hereby conferred the authority, with the approval of the Council members, to establish the systems needed to provide access, receive and process claims and complaints lodged by a homeless person or his/her representative when he/she alleges any action or omission by government agencies, the community sector, the faith-based or the private sector, which injure the rights afforded under the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the laws and regulations in effect.
All complaints instituted under the provisions of this chapter shall be processed as provided by the regulations to be approved to that effect in compliance with §§ 2101 et seq. of Title 3, known as the “Uniform Administrative Procedures Act of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico”.
The Department, in the exercise of the adjudicative authorities conferred by this chapter, may designate examining officials to preside over the administrative hearings held. Adjudicative procedures shall be governed by the laws and regulations in effect and by those adopted by the Department for such a purpose, including matters relative to the recourse of reconsideration and review of an adverse determination by the Department.
History —Sept. 27, 2007, No. 130, § 5.