Wednesday 23 August 2023

Disabled Homeless Individuals Sue California City Over Park Eviction, Destruction Of Personal Property: Report

 Three disabled homeless individuals accused a Southern California city of violating their constitutional rights after authorities ordered them to vacate city parks where they were living and allegedly destroyed their personal property in the process.

Lenka John, James Tyson, and Noel Harner filed a lawsuit on August 2 against the City of San Bernardino, alleging that it violated their constitutional rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to attorneys. The lawsuit alleges city officials destroyed the individual’s essential items, including medications and mobility devices.

John, 55, told The Los Angeles Times city employees tossed her medical records, heart monitor, walker, and disability assistance paperwork into a trash truck.

“I felt violated,” she said.

John and Tyson were staying at Meadowbrook Park at the time of the city order, while Harner lived at Perris Hill Park in San Bernardino, according to the lawsuit reported by Fox News. In addition to alleging the suit argues the city violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, the plaintiffs claim their “Fourth, Fifth, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in destroying John’s property without reasonable warning, justification, or accommodation,” the outlet reported.

City officials had announced in May that the public spaces would close temporarily for maintenance. Before the park closed, the Los Angeles Times reported at least 15 disabled homeless individuals requested assistance to move their belongings during the relocation process. But the lawsuit argues most of those submissions went unanswered by the city.

“Not only did the city not accommodate people, but they didn’t even respond to those requests,” said Kath Rogers, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California representing the plaintiffs, told the outlet.

In additon to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the plaintiffs are represented by O’Melveny and the Santa Ana’s Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, which the city spokesman said were invited to discuss solutions but filed a lawsuit against San Bernardino instead.

“The City of San Bernardino has an obligation to ensure that its public parks are available and maintained for everyone to freely and safely use,” city spokesman Jeff Kraus told Fox News in a statement. “When maintenance requires park closures, notices are provided, and services are offered to the unhoused who are impacted.”

“The City and its hard-working staff members look forward to proving that they do their jobs responsibly, legally and with care for the disabled and unhoused,” he said.

The individuals suing the city are just three out of over 1,000 homeless people living in the city of San Bernardino, according to the county’s 2023 Point-inTime Count and Survey. Nearly 4,200 people in San Bernardino County live without shelter, showing an increase of approximately 26% since 2022, according to Fox News.

In June, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted during an interview that his state had not made any progress in fixing its homelessness crisis, despite throwing billions of dollars at the problem.

According to federal and state data last year, a recent report from The Wall Street Journal said that California “accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, has about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless, an estimated 115,000 people.”

“This state has not made progress in the last two decades as it relates to homelessness,” Newsom said during an interview with Fox News. “Because housing costs are too high, our regulatory thickets are too problematic, localism has been too impactful, meaning people locally are pushing back against new housing starts and construction.”

The homeless population in the U.S. saw its biggest spike on record this year, the latest indicator that the country is struggling to address a dire homelessness crisis.

The number of homeless people across the country spiked by about 11% this year, the largest jump in more than 15 years when the government first started tracking the data, according to The Wall Street Journal’s review of data from around the country.

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search