Saturday, May 08, 2010

Dispute continues over rights
of homeless folks to camp on public lands

No agreement has been reached in the lawsuit over the rights of homeless individuals camping on public lands in Anchorage.

The lawsuit filed last month by the ACLU seeks to declare unconstitutional a city law passed last year allowing sweeps of homeless camps and removal of property -- from tents and sleeping bags to family photos and personal papers -- as waste. The camp closures can happen with as little as 12 hours' notice under the law, though city officials say none actually were shut down that quickly.

The city says the camps are illegal and they can be violent places. It is proposing to change the ordinance passed last July and give five business days' notice to homeless campers, allowing them time to clear out before the camp is closed.

The ACLU was seeking two weeks' notice or a promise from the city to store property seized from homeless camps, said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska. Other communities around the country offer storage, he said.

The mayor's homeless leadership team doesn't want camps cleared unless people can be offered a more stable place to live.

Read The Anchorage Daily News report here.


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