Boise Bench

City of Boise responds to homeless lawsuit

City of Boise responds to homeless lawsuit
By Michael Calgano

BOISE - After weeks of seeking comment, 2News finally has heard the city's side of the issue.

In an official legal response to the lawsuit, the Boise City Attorney's office denies all charges and asks for the case to be dismissed.

The lawsuit alleges the city's anti-camping ordinance imposes cruel and unusual punishment because when all the shelters in Boise are full, there is no other option for the homeless than to sleep outside.

The response argues the camping law at issue does not bring irreparable harm to the plaintiffs nor does it rise to a level of deprivation of rights protected by the constitution. They ask for the plaintiffs to pay all reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

"If we were able to pay the attorney fees and things like that we wouldn't be on the streets in the first place," said Robert Martin, one of the seven plaintiffs. "It's a way of the city again trying to find some loophole to run the homeless out of town."

Similar cases have played out in court before. In Sarasota Florida two laws banning sleeping outside were overturned by the state in 2005. A year earlier in Portland a law designed to prevent panhandling (called an obstruction as nuisances ordinance) was also struck down by the state.

No court date has been set as of yet. But one thing both sides can agree on is that if it does go to trial, a jury will decide the outcome.