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Boise homelessness ruling ripples across the West

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Rockies Today

October 15 · Issue #16 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Boise homelessness ruling ripples across the West
Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark ruling after homeless people took Boise to court. It said that if a city doesn’t have enough shelter beds available, enforcing a camping ban like Boise’s violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Los Angeles Times reports today on how that ruling has rippled across the West, especially in cities much bigger than Boise with intractable homelessness problems.
This city in Idaho is why L.A. can’t legally clear its streets of homeless encampments This city in Idaho is why L.A. can’t legally clear its streets of homeless encampments
The difference between homelessness in Los Angeles and homelessness in Boise is stark — as in orders of magnitude stark. There is no skid row here, no Tenderloin like San Francisco’s, no American River Parkway as in Sacramento.
Yet, it is this midsize city with its relatively manageable homeless population that is setting the enforcement standards for its much bigger counterparts in the West.
Boise Mayor David Bieter is attempting to challenge a landmark federal court ruling that prohibits cities from ticketing or arresting homeless people for sleeping or camping on public property if there are no shelter beds available as an alternative. The city and county of Los Angeles, along with several local governments in California and elsewhere, have filed court documents supporting Bieter’s bid.
The mayor hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will take up and then overturn Martin vs. City of Boise. He contends the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has hamstrung more than 1,600 Western municipalities in their efforts to control homeless encampments in parks and on sidewalks. Los Angeles, which President Trump says is “destroying” itself with homelessness, is chief among them.
L.A. has more than 36,000 homeless people and an untold number of encampments, which pop up faster than city sanitation crews can dismantle them. A recent Times analysis found that a majority of homeless people have either reported or showed signs of mental illness, a physical disability or substance abuse — conditions that get worse the longer people remain outside.
Boise, by comparison, has anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 homeless people, depending on whom you ask. There has been one encampment in recent memory. It was called Cooper Court, and the city tore it down in 2015.
This is perhaps the key difference between homelessness in California’s biggest city and in the leafy capital of Idaho: optimism.
Additional recent reporting on the case:
How a federal court ruling on Boise’s homeless camping ban has rippled across the West
How six homeless people in Boise drastically curbed Bakersfield's ability to dismantle encampments
Spokane backs Boise’s appeal of homeless camping ruling to Supreme Court
Privatize campgrounds in national parks?
Panel suggests privatizing campgrounds in national parks Panel suggests privatizing campgrounds in national parks
More public lands news:
What will we lose? Tracking climate change in Yellowstone
BLM move would split apart key public lands team
Report: Grand Teton among most ‘spoiled’ parks
Wyoming coal, Front Range fracking, Alberta wind
A roundup of energy news from around the region:
Wyoming lawmakers ponder how to protect workers, taxes in bankruptcies Wyoming lawmakers ponder how to protect workers, taxes in bankruptcies
In the wake of unprecedented coal bankruptcies, how are Wyoming lawmakers responding?
Can Wyoming law delay coal plant closures?
No relief from fracking industry on Colorado’s Front Range
Warren Buffett’s firm is building an Alberta wind farm that can power almost 80,000 homes
On the Northwest’s Snake River, the case for dam removal grows
Has the peak of the shale revolution come and gone?
Eastern Shoshone apply SCOTUS-affirmed treaty rights
Wyoming tribe to begin off-reservation hunting following Supreme Court ruling Wyoming tribe to begin off-reservation hunting following Supreme Court ruling
And more from Indian Country:
Fed up with deaths, Native Americans want to run their own health care
Apsaalooke woman tells tribe's story from complex Native perspective at prominent Chicago museum
The connection between pipelines and sexual violence
How the U.S. stole thousands of Native American children
How the U.S. stole thousands of Native American children
What else we're reading today
Trump administration proposes expanding logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest
Media distrust in Wyoming: A Q&A with Rod Hicks
Here's how building-sized blankets can save homes
Bill to fund Wyoming wildlife crossings advances
Washington state considers importing B.C. grizzlies to re-establish bears in North Cascades
One environmentalist’s warning: Think globally, act accordingly
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812