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Law & Justice

Boise Files Appeal With U.S. Supreme Court To Keep Anti-Camping Ordnance

Cooper Court, a former tent city in Boise
Kyle Green
Idaho Statesman

The city of Boise has officially filed its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court over its controversial anti-camping ordinance.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year declared the ordinance unconstitutional and considered it cruel and unusual punishment.

Boise’s ordinance bars anyone from sleeping outside in public places – unless all of the city’s homeless shelters are full. The case has been ongoing since 2009.

The most recent 9th Circuit ruling found one of the shelters temporarily banned people from staying there if they didn’t attend religious classes. City officials tried to get the case heard by the entire court, but that appeal was rejected this spring.

In the city’s complaint to the Supreme Court, it says creating a constitutional right to live on sidewalks and in parks would “cripple” the ability for cities to “maintain the health and safety of their communities.”

“Public encampments, now protected by the Constitution under the Ninth Circuit’s decision, have spawned crime and violence, incubated disease, and created environmental hazards that threaten the lives and well-being both of those living on the streets and the public at large,” they wrote.

Boise Police issued 30 tickets to people who violated the ordinance last year.

The city has recently backed two projects to provide more stable housing for those experiencing homelessness here.

New Path Community Housing opened its 41-unit complex last year, while a 26-unit complex specifically built for homeless veterans is expected to open in 2020. But it estimates there are still between 120-140 chronically homeless families and individuals in Boise.

City officials have paid Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $75,000 so far, with another $255,000 possible if the appeal is taken up, according to spokesman Mike Journee.

The Supreme Court will return from its summer recess in October.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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