Persons experiencing homelessness cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives.
Cincinnati, Ohio – This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition by the city of Boise to review the case Martin v. Boise (formerly Bell v. Boise). This leaves in place earlier rulings by the 9th Circuit that persons experiencing homelessness cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives.
The Supreme Court’s decision, issued without comment, means the April 2019 ruling is binding in the 9th Circuit, covering nine states including most of the western states, and carries national influence.
In a press release issued today, Josh Spring, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition said, “This is very important news, as our federal lawsuit filed last year by people experiencing homelessness and the Homeless Coalition continues to move forward here in the 6th Circuit.” Their lawsuit aims to overturn City of Cincinnati policies criminalizing people experiencing homelessness outdoors and hopes to squash last year’s Common Pleas Court order making it an arrestable offense to experience homelessness outdoors anywhere in the Hamilton County including Loveland.
The Law Center’s Executive Director, Maria Foscarinis, said, “Ultimately, our goal is to end homelessness through housing…so that no one has to sleep on the streets in the first place. We hope that the 9th Circuit decision will help communities find the political will to put that housing in place. Housing, not handcuffs, is what ends homelessness.”
John Parvensky, Acting Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless described this as a “victory”, saying, “…it will force communities to address homelessness proactively – through the development of an adequate supply of affordable housing, while providing safe and appropriate emergency shelter in the interim”.