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Federal judge rules 'sweeps' of Washington homeless camps can continue

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] on Tuesday denied [text] a motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to halt the seizure and destruction of the property of unhoused people living the city of Seattle. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed the case on behalf [MyNorthwest report] of The Episcopal Diocese, Real Change and two homeless individuals who claim to have lost property after the city confiscated and disposed of it without due process. The plaintiffs seek protection under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments [text]. ACLU of Washington Legal Director Emily Chiang said [Seattle Times report] her organization will continue to press the suit and seek class-action status for an estimated 20,000 homeless people.

Homelessness continues to be an issue [JURIST op-ed] faced by many domestic and international cities. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in November finding an increased criminalization of homelessness in cities across the US despite a lack of housing options. In March a lawsuit was filed against the city of Los Angeles for endangering the homeless [JURIST report]. Also in March the UN reported that homelessness will spread [JURIST report] globally due to general government inaction. In August 2015 the US government challenged [JURIST report] an Idaho ordinance that criminalized sleeping in public. The Department of Justice [official website] released a condemnation of the law, claiming it acted as a criminalization of homeless status in violation of these citizens' Eighth Amendment rights. JURIST guest columnist Azariah Jelks of Valparaiso University Law argued [JURIST op-ed] in December 2015 that affordable housing must become a reality, due to the mass increase in housing cost, forcing many people out into the street.

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