Corvallis Homeless to Sue City

By Bethany Carlson

HomelessA homeless Corvallis resident, Robert Smith, is filing a claim against the City of Corvallis. He claims that the City, in confiscating his belongings from a camp on the east side of the Willamette, violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, he says that the City put him in a less safe position through the confiscation of his property.

Smith and the other organizers of the lawsuit want the City to set aside a portion of land for the homeless to legally camp on. They’re asking for homeless people to give their names in order to be added to the lawsuit, in order to make it a class-action lawsuit. They’re also seeking a lawyer to represent them. Jeffrey Sharp, who opened his home to Smith and other homeless people, mentions other Ninth Circuit rulings in which cities were required to give accommodations to homeless people. “The fight here is just to get precedent applied,” said Sharp. Fresno, CA, made a settlement in which homeless people were reimbursed for property destroyed in sweeps, and given funding for housing. The ACLU has been involved in high-profile cases such as the one in Fresno. “The people who are the victims can’t afford to get an attorney,”  Sharp said.

Kimball Craig is collecting the names of homeless people who would like to be added to the claim. He may be contacted at 541-829-3873.

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3 thoughts on “Corvallis Homeless to Sue City

  1. As far as I can tell, no government employee has authority to seize private property without warrant. I think the 4th Amendment is more relevant than the 8th, but everyone has the right to due process. ODOT has paid out substantial sums to Portland campers who sued over this same issue.

    Why don’t we open up the campground at Willamette Park to a self governing Dignity Village? A compassionate, proactive approach would suit us better than fighting it out in a courtroom.

    1. Actually, the claim seeks relief under the 4th, 14th and 8th Amendment; the former dealing with the unlawful seizure, lack of Due Process and the latter with effectively punishing people just for adapting to their status as homeless by tearing down what shelter they have, taking away any privacy and relative safety and putting them at the mercy of the elements. The ACLU and other civil rights advocates have represented the homeless in several major cities and have prevailed with this argument and yes, other cities including now Boise Idaho are following the precedents of the 9th US Circuits and the District Courts within the 9th US Circuit.

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