How Boise's Fight Over Homelessness Is Rippling Across The West Coast
Added 12-13-19 05:06:02pm EST - “Cities in the West that are dealing with an explosion of homelessness are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that limits camping bans in public parks and right of ways.” - Npr.org
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Tents housing homeless line a street down the street from LAPD Central Community Police Station in downtown Los Angeles on May 30, 2019. In this city, homeless encampments are sprouting up in underpasses, along streets and on sidewalks and inside parks. Richard Vogel/AP hide caption
Tents housing homeless line a street down the street from LAPD Central Community Police Station in downtown Los Angeles on May 30, 2019. In this city, homeless encampments are sprouting up in underpasses, along streets and on sidewalks and inside parks.
It's billed as one of the most livable places in the country with its good schools, leafy streets and safe neighborhoods. That's what makes Boise, Idaho, an odd backdrop for a heated legal fight around homelessness that is reverberating across the western United States and may soon be taken up by the Supreme Court.
It goes back nearly a decade to when seven homeless people sued Boise for repeatedly ticketing them for sleeping outside. Last year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor. The decision said it was "cruel and unusual punishment" to enforce rules that stop homeless people from camping in public places when they have no place else to go. That means in states across the ninth circuit — including Washington, Oregon and California — cities and counties can no longer enforce similar statutes if they don't have enough shelter beds for homeless people sleeping outside.
Pam Hawkes was one of the original plaintiffs in the case. She now lives in Spokane, Wash., where she's been in and out of homelessness and only recently found stable housing. Seven years ago, she and her then-partner had nowhere to live in Boise and many nights they had no other choice but to pitch a tent in a wooded area along the river.
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