A group of around 20 individuals experiencing homelessness released a statement tonight about the protest in front of City Hall.
“We are here tonight to show that this is the only campsite that is safe inside the city of Portland and that we really need places that we are able to go for the night and know that we are going to be safe. By safe, we mean that we’ll be able to pitch a tent or sleep in a shelter or live in a tent city without harassment from the police.”
The statement goes on to say that individuals experiencing homelessness need more access to services, including emergency shelter year round. The group also asks the city to allow for another tent city within the city limits of Portland.
In July of last year, Street Roots’ Amanda Waldroupe explored what another tent city in Portland might look like.
In May of this year, Street Roots called for another tent city as a possible alternative in an editorial titled, Another Dignity Village? Why not?
Currently, the city is looking at several alternative proposals surrounding camping, including allowing for another tent city. The camping ordinance itself is currently being challenged in court by the Oregon Law Center. In August, a district judge gave the green light to a group of homeless people in the class action suit after the city tried to have it thrown out of court.
Read more about the protest and alternatives the city is exploring in the next edition of Street Roots this Friday.
Posted by Israel Bayer
Posted Dec. 11, 2008
Portland’s anti-camping ordinance is facing a legal challenge by lawyers with the Oregon Law Center who say the ordinance violates the constitutional rights of people experiencing homelessness.
The lawsuit, which is expected to be filed Friday, calls for the city to stop the ban on homeless people sleeping outside in Portland.
The lawyers say that the defendants — four homeless people who were cited for camping in Portland parks. — were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment as a result of the city’s ordinance. The ordinance prohibits people from camping on most public and private property.
For more on the camping ordinance, including changes in notice procedures that break it wide open for clearing camps, read Amanda Waldroupe’s story from Nov. 28.
The lawsuit says the city’s pattern of “citing and threatening to arrest involuntarily homeless individuals” for illegal camping is a violation of the Eighth Amendment. The ordinance and the procedures surrounding it also violates their plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment right to personal liberty and due process.
The lawsuit cites the realities facing people on the street with regard to sleep and shelter:
“Punishing homeless people for sleeping outside is placing the burden of the lack of sufficient housing squarely on the shoulders of those who can do the least to remedy this problem. It exacerbates the misery and suffering of homeless people and pointlessly prolongs their homelessness by enmeshing them in the criminal justice system’s maze of court dates, fines, community service, and jail time. It also fails to provide alternative options. Many homeless people are shut out of the private housing market because of their eviction history, criminal background or lack of income. Shelters rae difficult if not impossible to access for people who are disabled, mentally ill, seeking drug or alcohol treatment, part of a couple, or who have pets. Rather than address these problems directly, the City of Portland has chosen in effect to criminalize the status of being homeless.”
And that about sums it up. But there’s much more to come as the story develops. Look for more in tomorrow’s blog and upcoming editions of Street Roots.
Posted by Joanne Zuhl