San Francisco is being sued by several homeless people who contend that the city has violated their constitutional rights.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed the lawsuit this week for the Coalition on Homelessness and seven homeless individuals.
“This is the accumulation of years of witnessing, documenting, and responding to fundamentally abusive human rights violations that unhoused people have had to experience at the very worst time in their lives,” Jenny Friedenbach, leader of the Coalition on Homelessness, said. “We hope to accomplish a dramatic shift from a city that responds to homelessness with sweeps, with confiscation of property, with criminalizing folks for being poor to a city that is instead addressing the issue at its core through the provision of housing.”
The lawsuit claims that San Francisco acts against the Martin v. Boise case, the California Constitution and the Eighth Amendment. In Martin v. City of Boise, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that it violates the constitution to penalize people for sleeping outside when there isn’t enough room in shelters.
The group reportedly said that over half of the homeless population — at 57% — do not have shelters. On Wednesday, the group claimed that the city has not offered enough shelters for temporary housing.
“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,” the lawsuit said, per Reuters.
The group also said Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed, law enforcement, and other officials took action “to criminalize homelessness through an array of brutal policing practices that violate the constitutional rights of unhoused San Franciscans.”
“The City has also embarked on a campaign to seize and destroy the property of unhoused people with the express purpose of removing visible signs of homelessness from San Francisco’s streets,” it noted.
According to one of San Francisco’s websites, the amount of people experiencing homelessness in the city was at 7,754 this year. Those who are unsheltered made up the majority of the group at 4,397. The number comes from a street count conducted on one evening in February.
San Francisco has been facing an intense homelessness issue. It has gotten a little better since 2019, but this year, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) said the city could have 20,000 homeless people.
The report also reportedly noted that for each person housed by the city, around four will lose housing since HSH has “not been able to keep pace with inflow of people who become newly homeless or return to homelessness throughout the year.”