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Federal Judge Considers Houston’s Homeless Camp Ban

Houston’s mayor testified in federal court in defense of the city ordinance against homeless encampments; a judge ruled in August that the ban infringes on the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment”


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The American Civil Liberties Union is asking that the judge’s ban on Houston’s homeless encampment law remain in place until the court can look at the merits of the case. The ACLU says seeking shelter is not only a right, but a fundamental human necessity.

Mayor Sylvester Turner testified that two homeless encampments on city property have doubled in size since U.S. Federal Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt stopped the city’s ban on temporary structures. In August, when the judge stopped the law from going into effect, he wrote in his ruling that the homeless are “involuntarily in public, harmlessly attempting to shelter themselves — an act they cannot realistically forego.” It was a three-week temporary ruling which required a follow-up, but Hurricane Harvey caused a delay until this week.

The issues around homeless encampments are being discussed even as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month spotlights the needs of the homeless during the holidays.

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