SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu is firing back at homeless advocates who claimed the city violated a court-ordered injunction the protects people living on the streets.
The City Attorney filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California refuting allegations made by the Coalition on Homelessness.
The case, Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco, has prevented city officials from forcing any homeless person to move from a public space, such as a sidewalk. Judge Donna Ryu ruled in favor of the coalition on December 23, 2022.
Since then, “the city has gone to great lengths to comply with the injunction and remains committed to a services-first approach to addressing homelessness,” Chiu said. “Instead of working through minor issues with the city, Plaintiffs have spent months unjustifiably painting San Francisco as a violator of people’s rights. Despite the superficial heft of Plaintiffs’ nearly 400-page filing, their factual assertions fall apart.”
On May 25, members of the Coalition on Homelessness filed a motion alleging the city was in violation of the injunction order. The injunction prohibits San Francisco from enforcing or threatening to enforce laws prohibiting camping against “involuntarily homeless individuals” as long as the number of people experiencing homelessness exceeds the number of available shelter beds.
“Since the injunction was issued, the Plaintiffs have not identified a single instance of San Francisco citing or arresting someone under any of the enjoined laws,” the City Attorney’s Office wrote. “Unhoused people regularly refuse the city’s offers of shelter. For example, one plaintiff has been offered shelter multiple times, including an offer to live in an individual ‘tiny home’ cabin, which is typically considered a preferable shelter placement. But the plaintiff said he would have to check with his lawyers and then eventually refused the shelter space.”
City workers often deal with “dangerous and disturbing situations” at homeless encampments that require police officers to be present, Chiu said.
As one example, a self-declared homeless man said he would not accept shelter unless he could be housed with his “son.” After further investigation, city workers determined that the boy was not the man’s son, nor related in any way.
“If SFPD officers had not been present during that operation, as Plaintiffs would like, that child would still be living on San Francisco’s streets,” the City Attorney’s Office wrote.
Homeless advocates also accused the city of throwing away an unsheltered person’s tent on March 3, 2023. The tent was abandoned, soiled with feces, and contained hypodermic needles, according to Chiu.
When city workers encounter items “co-mingled or littered with needles, human waste or other health risks,” they are not required to sort through it, and are permitted to dispose of the entire pile of belongings without bagging and tagging any items.
The City Attorney’s Office said it filed its court brief to help “set the record straight.”