Why is the Coalition on Homelessness Suing the City of San Francisco?

In the foreground we see a figure holding a sign that reads "Housekeys not Handcuffs", and a crowd is gathered. In the background San Francisco City Hall seems to loom.

This article has been adapted from an episode of Street Speak, our podcast answering your burning questions about poverty and homelessness. To listen to the full episode, find us wherever you get your podcasts or on our website, streetsheet.org/street-speak-podcast

Right now, attorneys from the Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights (LCCR)—alongside the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Coalition on Homelessness—are suing the City and County of San Francisco for their main response to homelessness: criminalization.

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CARE Courts Signed into Law

Governor Gavin Newsom’s CARE Courts are now law after he signed the legislation on September 14. 

Senate Bill 1338, a Newsom proposal, will create a specialized mental health court where judges can compel people with mental health disabilities and substance use conditions into treatment. The bill allows a broad list of “specified individuals” to refer somebody for conservatorship, and sets a similarly broad set of conditions qualifying them for CARE Court.

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Police Know Arrests Won’t Fix Homelessness. They Keep Making Them Anyway

In the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, residents gathered at a public forum last June to voice their concerns about the city’s growing population of homeless individuals. 

Over the last decade, rent grew twice as fast in Portland as the rest of the country, and the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness increased by nearly 30 per cent. The effects of those dynamics were on full display in Lents, one of the city’s most racially diverse areas and among the neighborhoods where home prices had been rising the fastest. 

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Someone to Watch over Sweeps? Monitors for Homeless Operations Proposed

Human rights monitors should observe homeless encampment clearances to ensure that residents who are being connected to services keep their belongings and City workers follow their own policies, according to a new report.

On June 16, the Latino Task Force released a study based on more than 100 surveys with unhoused San Franciscans in the city’s Mission District. Almost two-thirds of those who responded said they are often displaced in encampment sweeps,

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Raising Awareness About Camps, Sweeps and Displacement in the United States

In recent months, cities and states across the United States have dramatically increased their efforts to sweep and displace homeless encampments and to criminalize people on the streets. In Tennessee, new legislation has made camping on public lands a felony with a possible jail sentence of up to six years in prison. 

A series of posters as part of the nation-wide campaign ‘Housekeys Not Sweeps’, led by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP),

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Housing for the People: Tennessee Law to Make Homelessness a Felony

The world is changing. Many American cities are experiencing a crackdown on homelessness. Individuals and families without a safe place to call home are being displaced with no place to go. People are losing their belongings. In Tennessee, it’s become extreme. On 1 July, a new law will pass making homelessness a felony “for a person to engage in camping on the shoulder, berm, or right of way of a state or interstate highway,

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A Preventable Tragedy

Coalition on Homelessness Statement on Officer-involved Double Fatality on May 19, 2022

Rising rents and a lack of stable, affordable housing have pushed many people into homelessness in San Francisco, like they have in cities up and down the West Coast. Living without stable housing is difficult and traumatizing, and it has long-term health consequences for those forced to endure it. With no door to lock and no safe place to rest, unhoused people live without the fundamental stability and safety a home provides.

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Federal Judge Blocks Fresno Ordinance Restricting Public Access to Encampment Sweeps

A tent is in the center of the frame. In front of it is what looks like a white dollhouse, laying flat on the ground. The image is in Black and White

A federal district court has issued a ruling that blocks the City of Fresno from enforcing an ordinance that puts unconstitutional restrictions on reporters, advocates, and other members of the public documenting how city workers treat unhoused people during encampment sweeps.

“The court recognized that this law was unconstitutional from the start because it is vague, over broad, and threatens to sweep in significant free expression protected by the Constitution,” said Hannah Kieschnick,

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After Permanent Housing Added, Shelter Legislation Moves Forward

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s shelter legislation is going to the full Board of Supervisors after the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee approved it on a 3-0 vote on May 26.

After several amendments through two committee meetings in May, one thing is for sure: Mandelman’s “Place for All Ordinance” is now a different animal from the legislation he introduced two months before with its primary focus on shelter softened as it moves to the full board on June 7.   

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Home — James Jefferson

Name: James Jefferson

Age: 39

Date: June 17, 2021

Place: Florida and Treat streets

Homeless: 12 to 13 years

“Does a tent afford privacy? I can do whatever I want within the four walls, but in this situation it feels like you’re an endangered species. Like you’re being hunted really slowly and silently. You never know when they’re going to come and uproot you.

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