Thursday, June 10, 2021

Oregon Will Allow Homeless Individuals to Sleep on Public Land in All Communities

Photo: Beth Nakamura/StaffThe Oregonian

The Oregonian
by Nicole Hayden

Oregon communities must rewrite local rules to allow Oregonians to sit, lie, sleep and keep warm and dry on public property in most circumstances.

House Bill 3115, which passed the Senate Wednesday afternoon and is en route to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk, is a response to a 2018 landmark homelessness case that impacted most western states with an intent to better support individuals experiencing homelessness.

While local governments should already be following rules set forth by the case known as Martin v. Boise, the bill, written at the behest of House Speaker Tina Kotek, forces cities to officially change any ordinance language still on the books to be in line with the court decision. It passed the Senate 28-10 on a largely party line vote, with Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose the lone Democrat to vote no.

In its ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said governments cannot criminalize conduct that is unavoidable as a result of experiencing homelessness. To punish a homeless individual for sleeping outside when there aren’t enough shelter beds would be comparable to punishing that individual for the fact that they are homeless, a consequence the court described as a cruel and unusual. Continue reading at The Oregonian

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