Privacy Rights of the Homeless


In the United States, the importance of protecting an individual's social services records has not been recognized. Even where laws exist to protect such information, they are often ill-applied or unenforced. Compounding this problem is a substantial lack of awareness among both social services clients and program administrators concerning what types of information may or may not be protected.

For instance, does the right to privacy allow a homeless person to hide the fact that she is homeless from potential landlords or employers? Do low-income social services recipients have the right to inspect the agency's records concerning them and to have errors corrected? What restrictions are placed on the disclosure of public and private social services records?

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