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Temporary ban on homeless camp removals in Sacramento in effect

The order expires in 28 days, but homeless advocates can file a motion to reinstate the injunction if they can show the need is still there.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal injunction stopping the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless encampments for the rest of this month is in effect. The lawsuit was filed by the Sacramento Homeless Union.

The Sacramento Homeless Union and Sacramento city officials tells us part of the issue is the extreme heat. By breaking up these encampments, people are removed from the shade, their more established set up and community resources.

To some, it’s a camp removal, but to others like John Taylor, it’s losing a home. Taylor has been experiencing homelessness since he was 15 years old.

Now, almost two decades later of living on the streets, he said that in the past year he has had to rebuild his home 10 times due to camp removals and territory issues.

“They completely destroy everything that you have. They just throw everything away, and you have to restart from scratch again. If you are doing anything with your life, or attempting to do anything with your life, it’s kind of tough,” Taylor said.

The Sacramento Homeless Union that filed the lawsuit said the main issue right now is that extreme heat. The California Homeless Union legal counselor Anthony Prince said the city doesn’t have enough centers with hours and transportation to them.

“I believe there are going to be deaths this year due to extreme heat in the homeless community,” Prince said.

He said the precedent not to criminalize and remove those experiencing homeless has already been set back in 2018 in the Martin v Boise decision in the Ninth Circuit of the U.S Court of Appeals.

“Whether it’s the cities or counties if they do remove people, they can only do that if they can provide alternative indoor - actually accessible - housing or shelter,” Prince said.

The homeless union filed this same injunction two years ago to stop camp removals during the COVID pandemic.

A city spokesman said the city has not been clearing encampments, and this injunction is narrowly focused to the summer time when there is extreme heat.

The injunction doesn’t affect anything regarding people living in vehicles. 

The order expires in 28 days, but homeless advocates can file a motion to reinstate the injunction if they can show the need is still there.

A full statement from the City of Sacramento is available below.

The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Troy Nunley reflects the complexity of the homelessness crisis in our state and city and the challenges encountered while working to address various health-and-safety needs in our communities.

The preliminary injunction temporarily prohibits the City from clearing homeless encampments during extreme heat events. According to the Plaintiffs’ allegations, the City has been clearing or sweeping encampments. The City informed the Court that it has not been clearing encampments. The Court did not hold a hearing before issuing the preliminary injunction. Instead, the Court clearly was concerned about the extreme heat the region is experiencing and made a prompt decision to prohibit clearing encampments for at least the next 28 days. 

The Court’s order is narrow and explicit in stating that the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling on Martin v. the City of Boise has no bearing on its temporary injunctive relief granted to the Plaintiffs. The order also is clear in stating that it does not address any arguments with respect to vehicles.

The order acknowledges that temporarily restraining “the City from clearing encampments may hamper the City’s ability to promote the public health, safety and general welfare.” However, in balancing the harms, the Court found that “the City’s interest in clearing encampments during extreme heat events is far outweighed by the Plaintiffs’ interest in their own health and welfare.”

The preliminary injunction will remain in effect for 28 days. After that, Plaintiffs may once again ask that it be reinstated. The City will at that time inform the Court that it has not been sweeping encampments and welcomes the opportunity to continue to clarify its position and unhoused protocols – especially surrounding critical infrastructure -- and to explore solutions with community partners. Meanwhile, the City will continue to use all its available resources to address the hardships encountered by unhoused individuals while working to ensure the health and safety of all residents.


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