Immunity for Temporary Homeless Services Fails, Instead Committee Passes Immunity to Save Dogs and Cats

Kankakee, IL – Representative Lindsay Parkhurst (R – Kankakee) testified before a subcommittee of the House Judicial-Civil Committee in a second effort to pass the Good Samaritan Act Temporary Homeless Shelter bill, HB 4254, on behalf of Fortitude Community Outreach. The bill is intended to provide civil immunity for not-for-profit organizations to provide emergency shelter services to the homeless.

“Organizations like churches and non-profits within the 79th District want to open their doors in extreme weather to provide temporary emergency shelters, but do not out of fear of being sued. Those wishing to lend a helping hand in time of need should not fear legal retribution for doing what is right,” Rep. Parkhurst stated.

HB 4254 failed a vote in subcommittee due to the opposition of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition says it is better for the homeless to retain their right to sue than to receive temporary emergency services without the right to sue.

Executive Director of Fortitude Canteen Outreach, Dawn Broers of Kankakee County, testified in an earlier hearing, “We have held many conversations with local churches and organizations over the last several months hoping to find one willing to open doors and offer space. The conversation ended with the same roadblock: liability.”

On the same day HB 4254 failed, the same committee passed HB 4191 out of subcommittee granting both civil and criminal immunity to individuals breaking into a vehicle to save a cat or dog.

“It is very disappointing to see the committee is willing to waive liability to save an animal, but not to help a homeless person,” Rep. Parkhurst stated.

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