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Disabled People in Portland, OR Suing City Over Sidewalks Blocked by Homeless Encampments

Disabled People in Portland, OR Suing City Over Sidewalks Blocked by Homeless Encampments

“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.

Featured image via YouTube.


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Nice gambit. Victimhood poker. Actually disabled vs. politically created ‘victims’ of society (or whatever).

Can’t wait for the Karens to come out and lecture these people about hardships and compassion.

it’s going to be amazing to see the “camping disabled” disappear the minute the snow starts falling

    Oregon Mike in reply to paracelsus. | September 9, 2022 at 12:17 am

    If only it snowed in Portland. It’s mostly rain.

      Olinser in reply to Oregon Mike. | September 9, 2022 at 3:50 am

      For people that live outside snow is actually significantly less dangerous than freezing rain or sleet because, while the temperature is colder, Solid snow takes a bit to melt and its quite easy to shield yourself from falling snow and not have it melt and get you wet. For real heavy snow you can actually build yourself a snow shelter to shield yourself from wind and more snow.

      Freezing rain or sleet at ~30 degrees, on the other hand, is far, FAR more dangerous because you have to have shelter that holds up to the force of the rain and wind that goes with it. Once you get wet, you are in real danger of death because they can’t just go inside and warm up and dry out.

      Obviously in a city like Portland there’s still not that much danger because they can invade woke spaces like Starbucks to dry off, but freezing rain has far more of an effect than snow.

The disabled aren’t high enough on the preference cascade. They’ll lose this one.

    DaveGinOly in reply to stevewhitemd. | September 9, 2022 at 12:30 am

    Exactly. The disabled may have been the first to get official preferential treatment. By now, they’re way behind the curve. Ironic that the disabled helped to initiate “the preference cascade” and now find themselves literally obstructed by the result.

      Dimsdale in reply to DaveGinOly. | September 9, 2022 at 1:17 pm

      Much like women trying to complain about transgender men in competition and bathrooms, the disabled will be told to shut up.

    CommoChief in reply to stevewhitemd. | September 9, 2022 at 8:57 am

    IDK about that. Maybe. There’s a real conflict here. There are statutory provisions that the government is required to perform that are not being met. There is likely a federal funding aspect at play in that the Cities/States must do X or maintain Y re the disabled to continue receiving federal funding. Then there’s the basic civil rights aspect.

    Lot’s of precedent exists for requiring basic accommodation. Keeping a sidewalk passable wouldn’t seem to be onerous. The CTs get the unwelcome task as umpire in another installment of the diversity Olympics.

      “There are statutory provisions that the government is required to perform…”

      They are supposed to police and prosecute crimes like vagrancy and drug use as well. How’s that working out.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Martin. | September 9, 2022 at 10:57 pm

        Two different avenues…

        One is in the courts which has expanded due to the useless and neverending churning out of law grads with nothing to contribute to society but more and more bills and regs.

        The other is in the criminal justice system which Dems love to destroy.

      “There are statutory provisions that the government is required to perform that are not being met.”

      And since when has that forced leadership to do their job?

Interesting. The courts usually rule in favor of the disabled when companies are sued.

Why would anyone be a person with “mobility disabilities?”

Wouldn’t it be much easier to just self-identity as able-bodied?

Many disabled are paying taxes.
Them ” Homeless ” are dead weight.
I am glad to see the disabled standing on their back feet.

I used to care about the homeless but that ended once started meeting them. I once had to deliver leftover food (very good quality food) to the local shelters as part of my volunteer duties with the Rose Parade and it was an eye-opener. As soon as we arrived, they would start complaining that we aren’t bringing the kind of food they want. That was maybe 20 years ago.

What I learned is that even back then, they had been so spoiled by good intentions that they were becoming entitled. Most of them are vile, ungrateful, hopeless people who bring misery with them everywhere they go. They are growing communities of human cesspools and most of them are going to die on the streets thanks to how governments are catering to their drug habits.

We shouldn’t be “investing” in them. There is a substantial criminal population among them which needs to be removed. There is a substantial population whose brains are so rewired by meth, crack and the rest that they live in moment-to-moment existence of robotic behaviors shaped by their daily habits. Then there are those who keep arriving to be sucked into the vortex. A horrible death machine that our governments use to build a new industry of bureaucrats and businesses feeding off of the taxpayer. It’s a growth industry.

Stop giving them money!!! Their lives are miserable and they don’t get better by all of this pity and good intentions. Sort out those who don’t want to be there and help them save themselves, especially the new arrivals. The rest….. FEMA camps?

Break up the urban homeless industry! It’s a billion-dollar industry alreay in LA and the more money we spend, the faster it grows and festers. Just stop!!

    It depends on the homeless.

    If all you can tell is that someone is homeless, you do have to presume s/he is mentally ill or drug-addled for your own safety.

    But the twelve men who were filtered out for the churches in my former neighborhood to pass around to shelter when the normal shelters are full were normal people very down on their luck. They were in a job training program, and vouched for by that or some other group. They were appreciative of the home-cooked dinners our church provided.

    So there are plenty of homeless who we *should* be helping, we just need to tailor the help to them, and to programs which help rather than enable (e.g. room & board job training which kicks you out if you don’t participate, not money for drugs.)

    The homeless who live long-term in tents among other homeless are mentally ill, or drug addicts, etc. at a much higher rate than the homeless overall. So for these purposes you’re doing the opposite filter — subtracting the people who are well enough to live in a shelter with strict rules, to crash on a friend’s couch, or be permitted on camp on someone’s lawn, etc.

      Gosport in reply to ecreegan. | September 9, 2022 at 10:41 am

      The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims we have over 10 million job openings in the U.S. right now. Until those job openings are all filled the “just down on my luck” thing doesn’t work.

      Sort those out first and then we can start figuring out what we can do for those truly unable to work or manage their lives.

      While we are on the topic, all the ridiculous give-away programs of the govt based on “unemployment” should be reviewed with extreme prejudice as should all of the excuses used for allowing illegal aliens into the country based on “we have jobs Americans won’t do”.

      I don’t know where you live but what you describing is the way it used to work. Your neighborhood must be handling only locals down on their luck, not the hundreds of thousands of transients traveling across the country, or actually bussed here, from throughout the country like we have to deal with. I’ll bet there are no city-sponsored tent cities with free drugs and syringes, four meals a day, and protected by the politicians.

      I used to belong to the Saint Vincent Society before I moved west. It was operated by anonymous parishioners who never get rewarded for their efforts. It operates anonymously so as to not shame those being helped and to not tempt people to give up because they know there are Saint Vincent Society’s out there. But those charities are absolutely crushed by what is going on right now.

      So if you think I am a heartless bastard for what I posted, you couldn’t be more wrong. You have to have faith that there are good people out there who will help the deserving. But it goes away when the faithless start not only using problems for political and financial gain but actually “invest” other people’s money in doing so. Never ever their money.

    SeiteiSouther in reply to Pasadena Phil. | September 9, 2022 at 11:16 am

    My view on homelessness changed a lot during the years. I used to give money, but once they started becoming belligerent when I (truthfully) told them I had no money, I decided enough was enough.

    Now, I only give money when I know for a fact that they need it. During my tenure in the CBD, I have seen homeless people in wheelchairs with no legs and/or legs that are clearly inoperable. To those, I always give a lot of money to, because they have problems that make mine look like a birthday party,

    Other than that, don’t wave in my face to get my attention because I have headphones on, because I will just ignore you. Don’t tell me a sob story that I know is clearly false and expect to get money. Don’t approach me at a gas station and, when I tell you that I don’t have money, have the gall to say, “I wasn’t going to ask for that.” Bullshit, you were.

    If that makes me a heartless bastard, where do I get my certificate?

    aivanther in reply to Pasadena Phil. | September 9, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    I interned at a homeless shelter 12 years ago and I ran into people that fit broadly into 4 categories (very much a Vinn diagram).

    1. Was the addicts. Had a lot of these were alcoholics or drug addicts. Some really wanted to get clean, but were stuck in a cycle. Some were showing very little attempt to change.

    2. Mental Health patients. These were legitimately sad cases. Met my first actively hallucinating individual, who insisted they heard their baby crying from their uterus (she told us she had been pregnant for the past 3 years). She was very post-menopausal. I had a few with bipolar disorder. There was a significant overlap with group 1, but not always. Also some overlap with number 4. These in some ways tore at my heart strings the most, as they were stuck in a cycle that their own disability kept them stuck in.

    3. The deliberate choice. Some of these were chronically lazy and liked living on assistance, some were just general a**-holes who burned every bridge and ended up unemployed and friendless due to their behaviors. Again, a lot of overlap with 1, though sometimes with number 4. If they were chronic, they would frequently know exactly how long they could stay at which shelter, how to get on long term lists, what the requirements were, etc.

    4. Were the down on their luck types. It may have been someone who made a really dumb choice and burned a bridge, could be a woman fleeing an abuser. It could be a man who got a second DUI and lost his CDL. I even had one who was kicked out from his girlfriend of 10 years because he had an affair and his only friends were her friends who wouldn’t put him up. Once even saw an entrepreneur who bet the farm and lost. These ones were sad, but you also often (thought not always) the shortest lived ones as they were trying.

    That said, this was in an area that didn’t encourage homelessness like, say, San Francisco. There were services, but virtually all the shelters and services were focused on trying to provide long term change (e.g. ours had mandatory classes you had to attend if you were going to stay there). I imagine in areas where homelessness is outright subsidized you get more of 1 and 3.

So disabled “Portlanders” are unable to use the many bike lanes throughout the city to get around? Obviously, drug addicted scum have more rights to occupy public sidewalks and throughfares… Right??? All hail the state and its progressiveness!!!

Clearly, the wealthy leftists, including the governor and other administrators that made this mess, should allow them to camp on their properties and neighborhoods.

Just like illegals getting bussed to DC and NYC, the problem will become a problem.

Entitlement versus entitlement in the case of disabled. Public sidewalks are for public passage, for every pedestrian. They should sue for the right of all pedestrians. City codes everywhere prohibit blockage but are being ignored. What are walkers of any age or ability to do when sidewalk campers are being enabled?

    healthguyfsu in reply to LAalldayLady. | September 9, 2022 at 11:13 pm

    They’re suing under a specific federal statute (The AWDA) that has a pretty high chance of success, but you are welcome to waste your time and money suing for yourself right into a dismissal and probably a laugh factory on the way out of court.

    Let us know how that goes.

    henrybowman in reply to LAalldayLady. | September 10, 2022 at 12:38 am

    They don’t clear agitators off roads for drivers, what makes you think they’re going to bother to clear sidewalks for walkers?