Tag Archives: Monica Goracke

Plaintiff in camping lawsuit puts award toward homeless campers

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Leo Rhodes, one of nine plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city over homeless camping, says he will take his small payment from the settlement and give it to, well, other controversial homeless campers.

Rhodes was unhappy with the recent settlement, which presents new guidelines for police but falls short of reversing the city’s anti-camping ordinances, because, he says, it doesn’t address the larger problem of people who are homeless having no place to go.

“All my money is going toward Right 2 Dream Too,” Rhodes says, referring to the rest site for people experiencing homelessness at the corner of Northwest Fourth Avenue and Burnside. “Because this is giving them a place to go — some stability and some sanity. Where they can have a safety zone.”

It’s not a lot of money, a few hundred dollars each under the terms of the settlement finalized earlier this month. Continue reading

Oregon Law Center scores victory for people sleeping outside

by Joanne Zuhl

Homeless campers came out the winners in a settlement with the Oregon Department of Transportation that buys them time before their property is swept from camps.

The settlement, signed in August, puts into effect this month new guidelines that now require ODOT to post a pending camp sweep no less than 10 days and no more than 19 prior to confiscating property. The guidelines apply statewide, and are the result of a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Law Center on behalf of six homeless campers who lost property in sweeps in Southeast Portland. Continue reading

Camping ordinance being challenged

The Oregon Law Center’s class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Portland’s camping ordinance follows in a long line of similar lawsuits filed across the country to vindicate the Constitutional rights of homeless individuals.

And because of prior lawsuits and the precedents they established, the lawsuit, Anderson v. Portland, has a strong chance of being successful. That would add Portland to a small list of cities whose camping ordinances have been declared unconstitutional.

“There is a solid basis for this lawsuit,” says Adam Arms, the civil rights lawyer who successfully challenged an unconstitutional version of the city’s sidewalk obstructions ordinance in 2004.

Tulin Ozdeger, the National Law Center on Homeless and Poverty’s civil rights program director agrees. “As shown by other successful cases across the country… there are a lot of Constitutional problems with these kinds of measures,” says Ozdeger.

Anderson v. Portland, filed in federal court on December 12, argues that the camping ordinance is unconstitutional in two respects.

First, the illegalization of outdoor sleeping when there are not enough shelter beds for homeless individuals cruelly and unusually punishes homeless people, violating the 8th Amendment of the Constitution.

“The Defendants’ [the City of Portland and the Police Bureau] pattern of citing and threatening to arrest involuntarily homeless individuals such as Plaintiffs for illegal camping and other offenses when they are sleeping outdoors… based on their status as homeless persons… is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit reads.

A 2006 case, Jones v. Los Angeles, challenged Los Angeles’ camping ordinance, which made it illegal to camp in public spaces at any time of the day.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Los Angeles could not legally punish homeless individuals for sleeping outside when not enough shelter beds exist to provide night shelter to all the city’s homeless.

“It was a huge victory,” says Becky Dennison, co-director of the Los Angeles

Community Action Network, which pursues community organizing efforts in Skid Row.

The precedent set by that case recognized that people have a right to sleep and perform other activities necessary to survive and live.

“There’s no right more fundamental than the right to survive, the right to perform life sustaining activities,” Arms says. Continue reading

City’s new anti-camping policy drawing fire

Posted Dec. 3, 2008


Word is getting around about the city’s new camping ordinance guidelines as reported in the latest Street Roots. Reporter Amanda Waldroupe sheds light on new procedures that slipped under the radar as the city touted shelters, warming centers and assorted good-n-fuzzies. But the truth is, the city is expanding its opportunities to roust and displace, without notice, the growing number of our neighbors trying to stay warm, dry and safe at night. This, even as the city says shelter providers report about a 50 percent increase in the numbers of families seeking shelter.

Loaded Orygun adds great commentary to the subject. Read it here, and lend your voice to the discussion.

Read “New guidelines waive 24-hour notices to homeless campers” after the jump

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

Continue reading