By Bethany Carlson
A 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.