FAQ: Preliminary Injunction Against the Criminalization of Homelessness in San Francisco

by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

Q: What is the holding of the Ninth Circuit case Martin v. Boise?

A: In Martin v. Boise, the Ninth Circuit determined that the government cannot arrest poor people for sitting, lying, or sleeping in public when they have no real alternative. The decision does not cover individuals who do have access to appropriate shelter or housing.


Coalition on Homelessness et al v. San Francisco: City Emboldened to Continue Sweeps Despite Injunction

Counter rally outside Browning Courthouse in San Francisco on August 23, 2023

Mayor London Breed announced that the City plans to resume enforcing laws governing homelessness in San Francisco in the latest development in a lawsuit against San Francisco for how it conducts operations on street homeless encampments

In a Medium post on September 25, Mayor Breed said that a district court order from last December has prevented the City from enforcing several of its homelessness ordinances—while allowing street cleaning and clearing blocked sidewalks—but lawyers for the Coalition on Homelessness and seven unhoused plaintiffs dispute that assertion.


Coalition on Homelessness et al v. San Francisco: One Week, Two Court Dates

Counter rally outside Browning Courthouse in San Francisco on August 23, 2023

A lawsuit over San Francisco’s sweeps of homeless encampments continued as two separate hearings were held last week. 

Those hearings may end up being a prelude to more action in court if the lawsuit comes to trial. Along with seven unhoused plaintiffs, the homeless advocacy organization Coalition on Homelessness—which also publishes Street Sheet—accused City workers of violating unhoused residents’ rights and destroying their property while clearing camps off the streets.

On August 23,


Coalition on Homelessness et al v. San Francisco: City Balks on Settlement Offer

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

The Coalition on Homelessness offered to settle its lawsuit against San Francisco for its illegal practices of sweeping unhoused people off sidewalks. The City rejected the offer.

In a Thursday letter to City Attorney David Chiu, Mayor London Breed and others, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and the American Civil Liberties Union Northern California said that both sides could work together toward a shared goal of tackling the dual problems of street homelessness and a lack of affordable housing. 


Insecurity with Security and the Law

by Derek Williams

One Saturday, I was sitting in front of the Safeway on Church and Market streets when a petite Black woman came up to me and told me that a store security guard just struck her on the head with a broomstick from behind. What made that worse was that she was on the toilet. What’s a mall cop doing in a women’s bathroom anyway?

A friend of mine overheard our conversation and commented that there had to be more to the story than meets the eye,


‘You are killing us’: Lives Lost to Involuntary Displacement, aka Sweeps

Let This Radicalize You

by Robbie Powelson

Joel died on or around April 20, 2022 in a gutter in San Rafael.

I received the news, like most everyone from our encampment in Sausalito, around noon while about a quarter of our camp attended a court ordered settlement conference with the City of Sausalito.

Joel was 24 years old, with a big goofy grin. The last time I saw him, he was catching a pigeon in the center of the city-operated camp in Sausalito.


Anti-Homeless Violence

The New Lynchings of the 21st Century

Updated on May 16th to reflect current developments

What does Walgreens carry on its shelves that could be worth a human life? Banko Brown was a young Black trans activist who had been unhoused in San Francisco for a decade. In his volunteer work and community organizing with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, he consistently advocated for basic access to services, and was beloved by his community. 


City Violates Court Order on Homeless Sweeps, says Coalition

by Javier Bremond

The Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco has documented numerous violations of the preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in their lawsuit against the City of San Francisco for violating the constitutional rights of unhoused San Franciscans. 

In September 2022, the Coalition filed a lawsuit stating that the City has been unjustly sweeping homeless individuals by displacing them with no alternatives to adequate shelter,


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.


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.