Monday, April 17, 2006

Sit/lie ruling from 9th Circuit Court

The LA Times reported on Friday that the “Los Angeles' policy of arresting homeless people for sitting, lying or sleeping on public sidewalks as "an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter" violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and punishment, a federal appeals court ruled today.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, decided in favor of six homeless persons, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. The suit challenged the city's practice of arresting persons for violating a municipal ordinance, which states that "no person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or public way."

  • LA Times article

  • According to an attorney familiar with the ordinances in Seattle and Portland the ruling doesn’t change much for those cities due to the way the ordinances are written.

    This comes at a time when several homeless organizations on the west coast, including Portland’s Street Roots and Sisters of the Road Café, and Seattle’s Real Change have shifted their focus of working on Civil Rights issues locally, and have teamed up with organizations in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles – with the idea of building a social movement that has more influence and vision.

    The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) was born in San Francisco several months back when the former Executive Director of the San Francisco Coalition for the Homeless invited members from homeless organizations together to build an organization that could work together on Civil Rights, and housing issues up and down the west coast.

    Last month, WRAP produced an extrodianary piece that
  • (WRAP article)
  • ran in more than seven street newspapers in North America, and was featured on the
  • Street News Service
  • that outlines how the Federal Government has created a rats nest concerning housing.
    More to come…

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