Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco
On September 27, 2022, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP filed suit on behalf of the Coalition on Homelessness against the City and County of San Francisco and Mayor London Breed for their efforts to criminalize homelessness through an array of brutal policing practices that violate the constitutional rights of unhoused San Franciscans. The plaintiffs are also seeking a preliminary injunction to stop these practices on an emergency basis.
For years, San Francisco has claimed that it is taking steps to address the City’s homelessness crisis. But in fact, the City is forcing unhoused people out of sight—destroying their survival belongings and citing and arresting them for sleeping in public when they have no shelter to go to. San Francisco has more laws penalizing homelessness than any other city in California. These regressive mass incarceration era policies only perpetuate San Francisco’s homelessness crisis and scapegoat unhoused people for the City’s egregious failure to support affordable housing for San Francisco residents.
On December 23, just a day after the preliminary hearing in the case, a federal judge in the Northern District Court of California granted an emergency order in the lawsuit. The order prohibits the City from enforcing brutal policing practices that violate the civil rights of unhoused San Franciscans. Additionally, the order stops the City from seizing and destroying unhoused people’s survival gear and personal property.
The Court’s order directs the City to immediately halt these harmful incarceration-era policies that have done nothing to solve homelessness and have instead worsened the crisis. In granting the order, the Court also acknowledges that the City’s cruel policies have made it harder for people to exit homelessness.