Homeless Sweeps Challenged

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 2, 2007

The federal suit claims that it’s unconstitutional to punish homeless people who sleep outside. Anthony Lehr is one of about a dozen plaintiffs named in the suit. He says police confiscated his possessions when they made him leave his campsite along the American River. 

"…tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, prescriptions, and I just did not feel there was any compassion." 

Another plaintiff in the suit is the homeless advocacy group Loaves and Fishes. Sister Libby Fernandez is their executive director. 

"Unless you can have enough shelters, homes, housing for our guests, stop giving these tickets, making our homeless guests feel like criminals."

Deputy Sacramento City Attorney Matthew Ruyak says the suit was unexpected. 

"We were somewhat taken aback by it considering that it’s our office’s belief that the City of Sacramento is pretty progressive when it comes to the homeless issues." 

…including, Ruyak says, the city’s 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness and providing cooling and warming centers. Ruyak says city attorneys are still evaluating the complaint and will come up with a legal response over the next several weeks.