A group of homeless people and an organization have filed suit against the city of San Francisco after they were removed from public spaces and some of their belongings confiscated.
The Daily Caller reports that the suit, enjoined by a group called the Coalition on Homelessness, alleges that property was destroyed and the city failed to provide the individuals with adequate housing alternatives.
City officials have subjected homeless people to “ongoing criminalization and property destruction practices,” according to the lawsuit. It also claims that San Francisco is in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by threatening, citing, arresting, and removing homeless people from public spaces, while also infringing on Fourth Amendment rights by taking and destroying some possessions.
“More than 57% of SF’s homeless population is unsheltered because the City has never provided enough temporary shelter for the City’s residents. Yet the City coordinates multiple agencies to cite, fine & arrest unhoused people who have nowhere to turn,” the organization noted in a Twitter thread.
“These policies to displace & criminalize unhoused people violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel & unusual punishment. The City adds insult to injury by destroying homeless people’s personal property, such as tents & other survival gear,” the thread continued.
“Homeless sweeps are cruel, inhumane & unconstitutional practices that only exacerbate homelessness,” the group thread added.
The Daily Caller noted further:
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruled in 2018 that municipalities could not criminalize homeless people sleeping outside on public property without shelter being practically available. The decision is constitutionally binding in states the circuit court covers, as the Supreme Court passed on reviewing it in summer of 2022, according to OregonLive.
“San Francisco presents the image of a caring municipality with a concrete plan to address the root causes of homelessness,” the lawsuit claims. “But in reality, the City’s decades-long failure to adequately invest in affordable housing and shelter has left many thousands of its residents unhoused, forcing them to use tents and vehicles as shelter. In the face of this mounting crisis, the City has marshalled significant resources toward unlawful and ineffective punishment rather than affordable housing and shelter.”
The Lawyer’s Committee For Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area has also stepped up to help represent the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.
“San Franciscans deserve real solutions to homelessness. That starts and ends with the City actually investing in affordable housing,” a press release from the committee noted. “The City cannot punish unhoused people for a housing crisis it created.”
It’s not clear how San Francisco — or any other city — ‘creates’ a “housing crisis” unless, of course, the organization is pointing to left-wing policies that accommodate homelessness in the first place. It’s also not clear what the lawyer’s group and other liberal organizations think about the rights of the vast majority of San Fran residents to not have to surrender the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces they pay for to squatters.