A person’s automobile is his citadel. So declared the Washington Supreme Courtroom, kind of, when it dominated final August that town of Seattle couldn’t impound a homeless man’s truck and require him to pay almost $550 in towing and storage prices. Nor might town promote the person’s truck, his sole supply of shelter, at public sale to repay his money owed.
The justices held that Seattle’s follow violated the Eighth Modification’s prohibition of extreme fines and charges. It was one of many first occasions a state excessive court docket had utilized the Extreme Fines Clause for the reason that U.S. Supreme Courtroom dominated in 2019 that it constrains the states.
The ruling was important not only for Eighth Modification jurisprudence but additionally for the rights of homeless folks. The court docket discovered that the plaintiff’s truck certified as his homestead.
In keeping with the court docket’s opinion, there are almost 12,000 homeless folks in Washington’s King County, greater than 2,000 of whom reside in autos. Cities throughout the nation have been attempting to take care of the general public nuisance of tent camps and folks residing of their automobiles. However their options have amounted to little greater than rousting indigent folks from one spot to a different.
The Justice Division introduced in August that it was launching an investigation into potential civil rights abuses by the Phoenix Police Division. Amongst different complaints, it’s going to look into allegations that Phoenix cops unlawfully seize or eliminate homeless folks’s belongings.
In October, the Miami Metropolis Fee enacted a ban on public tenting. After dealing with criticism that they had been criminalizing homelessness, the commissioners authorized a sarcastic “adopt-the-homeless” program, providing help to Miami residents who wish to assist clear up the issue by offering area of their houses. “If there are as many kindhearted folks on the market as some declare to be on the market,” Commissioner Joe Carollo stated, “I’d count on them to step up.”
Cities do not make it straightforward for personal charities to step up, nevertheless. In October the city of Brookings, Oregon, decreed that church buildings in residential zones—which means each church in Brookings—can be allowed to serve meals to the homeless simply two days every week. The restriction was a response to neighbors’ complaints a couple of native Episcopal church. The county has no homeless shelters, and the church was the one place providing scorching meals seven days every week.
Cities have a legit curiosity in sustaining security and livability. However that may’t come on the expense of spiritual charity or respect for the dignity and rights of homeless folks.