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The Trump administration continued to show an interest in California’s homeless crisis but offered little in the way of help or specific solutions as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development toured a Skid Row shelter in LA and called for cooperation among federal, state and local governments. HUD Secretary Ben Carson was noncommittal about what he could offer, saying the administration was considering all options, including re-using vacant federal buildings for shelters.
A federal appeals court won’t rehear a case related to a ordinance that bans residents from sleeping outside, a policy that has sparked protest in Spokane.
Now that Spokane’s shelter capacity has increased by 275, the city will resume enforcing a law that bars people from sitting, sleeping or lying on the streets of downtown Spokane beginning Feb. 8.
As public outcry over laws prohibiting camping, sitting or sleeping on public property grows, city officials and police say illegal camping is more wide spread than it has been in the past.
In the freezing-cold early-morning hours Monday, about two dozen activists assembled with a small group of homeless people to
After a group of homeless people camping in front of city hall in protest were notified that their belongings would be cleared away in 48 hours, a group of protesters will form a human wall between them and any city officials who attempt to take their belongings Monday morning.
After litigation concerns and the loss of 150 shelter beds in September, the Spokane City Council voted to suspend a law that banned people from sitting, or sleeping on sidewalks downtown.
Robert Martin no longer lives as a homeless man in Boise, as he once did. But Martin, now a North Idaho resident, visits that city several times a year to see his son. And when he does, he doesn’t have a place to sleep. Martin’s experiences, along with those of a handful of other homeless people, are at the heart of last week’s ruling by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that it is unconstitutional for a city to prosecute a homeless person for resting on public property when there is no shelter available.
After a federal appeals court ruled that prosecuting people for sleeping on the street when they can’t find shelter is unconstitutional, Spokane’s city officials are reviewing local ordinances that restrict sitting, sleeping and camping in public spaces.
When a divided Spokane city council passed a law banning sitting and lying on downtown sidewalks, advocates said the law was intended to clean up downtown, not criminalize homelessness. Nearly two years later, a majority of people cited under the law are homeless, though many cases are dismissed and jail time is almost unheard of. Supporters say the sit and lie law is working as intended: downtown feels more welcoming, and homeless people are directed to social services when they’re found in violation. But even if they’re unlikely to go to jail or get a conviction on their record, many homeless people say the sit and lie law is just one more tool used to make them feel unwelcome in public places.
There’s a wonderful scene in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life,” in which officers in the British army that is violently “colonializing” Africa display their obtuseness when they are told a man has had his leg bitten off by a tiger. “ A tiger?” goes the dumbly perplexed chorus. “ In Africa?”
Who has precedence on Spokane’s sidewalks: pedestrians or people waiting for the bus at the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza? Downtown business interests posed that question Monday in an email to STA as part of their controversial examination of plaza operations.
Spokane police have issued 32 tickets since the first of the year enforcing a law making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks and planters in the downtown area. Capt. Brad Arleth said the citations were handed out to 22 people, with several of them getting more than one citation.
Supporters of the city’s new sit-lie law said repeatedly Monday night that they were not trying to criminalize homelessness. Starting with City Councilman Mike Allen – who put air quotes around the words “criminalize homelessness” – virtually everyone who testified in favor of the law that criminalizes sitting or lying on city sidewalks emphasized the exact same point: They are definitely, absolutely, totally not trying to criminalize homelessness.
I walked through downtown Spokane – and lived to tell about it. Just went out and walked around. Crazy, huh? Intrepid? Down Riverside. Over to the park. Looked at the river. Nice river. Nice park. Past the dreaded “planter” by the Olive Garden. Some kids were sitting there, aimlessly. A rumor of marijuana floated in the air. I braced myself and made it safely past.
A proposed expansion of powers for Spokane police expected to decrease criminal behavior downtown has been partly blocked by City Council President Ben Stuckart after detractors said it would “criminalize homelessness.” Stuckart said he agreed with the primary motivation of the proposals but believed they were too broadly written.