“The City has failed and continues to fail to maintain its sidewalks clear of debris and tent encampments, which is necessary to make its sidewalks readily accessible to people with mobility disabilities”
A group of disabled people is suing the city of Portland, Oregon, for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to keep the sidewalks clear of homeless encampments.
It’s easy for many people to forget how vital clear sidewalks are for a person who is blind or uses a wheelchair to get around.
This is a perfect example of how the left thinks they are being compassionate by allowing people to camp in public places when in fact, they are making life difficult for people who need real consideration.
The Willamette Week reports:
Federal Lawsuit Alleges City of Portland Fails to Uphold Americans With Disabilities Act by Allowing Tents on Sidewalks
Ten Portlanders with disabilities filed a class action lawsuit in United States District Court on Tuesday evening, alleging the city of Portland has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing homeless people to camp on city sidewalks.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by five Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys, including John DiLorenzo, demands that the city immediately sweep all tents from sidewalks while litigation is ongoing.
The lawsuit’s argument hinges on a section of the Americans with Disabilities Act that identifies sidewalks as a “service, program, or activity” within the city that must remain accessible for those with disabilities.
“The City has failed and continues to fail to maintain its sidewalks clear of debris and tent encampments, which is necessary to make its sidewalks readily accessible to people with mobility disabilities,” the lawsuit reads. “Indeed, a substantial number of the City’s sidewalks—particularly those in the City’s busiest business corridors—do not comply with applicable federal statutes and regulations because they are blocked by tent encampments and attendant debris, rendering the sidewalks inaccessible, dangerous, and unsanitary for people with mobility disabilities.”
The plaintiffs asked the court to mandate that the city clear all sidewalks of tents and also make shelter available to all those swept, even if it means immediately constructing shelter for everyone to avoid running into problems with a 2017 9th U.S. Circuit Court decision that prohibits cities from criminalizing homelessness if there are not adequate beds to shelter people.
This video report from KGW News includes testimony from some of the disabled people involved in the suit who describe how difficult it is for them to use the sidewalks:
One issue that complicates this suit is the fact that some of the homeless people living in sidewalk tents are also considered disabled.
OPB News reports:
A 2019 count of the county’s homeless population found that more than half of the people living outdoors or in shelters had a physical or mental disability. Both homeless and disability advocates say this lawsuit will do little to help this population and dismissed the suit as misguided.
“If we really care about people with disabilities, this doesn’t seem to be the answer,” said Katie O’Brien, the executive director of women’s shelter Rose Haven. “It’s a distraction that really kind of misses the broader need of our disabled community at large.”
Before landing with Davis Wright Tremaine, Mozyrsky said he approached Disability Rights Oregon, which frequently fights legal battles on behalf of Oregonians with disabilities. He said he was rebuffed.
Asked about the decision not to take on the lawsuit, Disability Rights Oregon executive director Jake Cornett said in a statement that the litigation wrongly pitted “some people with disabilities against other people with disabilities.”
This puts the city in a tricky situation, but perhaps it will force Portland to deal with its homeless problem once and for all.
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