NW Cities Push for High Court Ruling on Homeless Camping Bans
The Supreme Court will be asked for a ruling on a lower court decision that prohibits cities from passing bans on homeless people camping on public (city-owned) property.
Seattle joins the group of 17 cities
According to MyNorthwest.com and other sources, Seattle has joined the effort that began with the city of Grants Pass, OR.
These cities have filed what is called an amicus brief with the Grants Pass case. They are not named in the suit, but officially support it. They are supporting the new Oregon case, in which 3 homeless people sued Grant Pass over a recent ban on public land homeless camping. .
Spokane citizens have overwhelmingly supported a petition to put a public camping ban on the upcoming ballot, and other cities are now passing similar bans.
These bans prohibit homeless people from camping in parks, playgrounds, school grounds, city facility locations, or any other non-private land.
The case seeks to overturn a case called Martin vs. Boise
Martin vs. Boise was a 2018 decision from an original 2009 lawsuit, where several homeless people sued over homeless camping bans on public lands. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a city cannot enforce such a ban if they do not have enough shelter beds for their homeless population. The court considered such bans as cruel and unusual punishment.
This decision would have required a city (if they wanted to enforce such a ban) to count the 'exact' number of homeless persons inside their city limits, and then ensure there were enough beds for them in shelters. Given the transient nature of the homeless population, it would have been an almost impossible and financially expensive task. according to many city officials.
Some of the 17 cities seeking to have the Supreme Court rule (or overturn) the 9th Circuit decision include Seattle, Grants Pass, Honolulu, Anchorage, San Diego, Colorado Springs, Providence, Rhode Island, and others who are members of the National League of Cities.