Federal Court Issues Restraining Order Against City of Houston in Homelessness Suit

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
August 23, 2017 10:30 am

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HOUSTON — A federal court issued a temporary restraining order against the City of Houston today in an ongoing lawsuit challenging two city ordinances that target the homeless. Specifically, today’s ruling prevents law enforcement from citing or arresting anyone for using a tent on public property.

“We’re delighted the court recognized that homelessness is not and should not be a crime,” said Trisha Trigilio, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Seeking shelter is not only a right; it’s also a fundamental human necessity. We call on the City to stop enforcing ordinances that criminalize such a basic human need and seek more compassionate and effective methods for solving Houston’s homelessness problem.”

The ACLU of Texas, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and Dechert LLP applied for today’s restraining order following police raids of a Houston homeless encampment.

“This injunction is a good thing; we’re not hurting anybody,” said Eugene Stroman, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “We’re just out here trying to survive without being harassed by the police. You shouldn’t be able to arrest someone for being somewhere when they have no place else to go.”

Attorneys for both sides must now meet to determine a date for a full hearing on the lawsuit.

“I am happy the injunction went in our favor,” said Shere Dore, a longtime advocate in Houston’s homeless community and a main witness in the plaintiffs’ case. “Our homeless have a voice. It’s been a long hard fight and I’m glad the system is finally respecting their rights.”

View the Temporary Restraining Order.

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