Judge issues injunction, details how ‘sweeps’ are to resume in homeless camps

PHOENIX — A federal judge has issued an injunction that allows the city of Phoenix to continue cleaning in homeless camps, but with certain protections for unsheltered individuals.

Video in the player above is from previous ABC15 coverage on “the Zone.”

The injunction stops the city from doing the following:

  • Enforcing camping and sleeping bans so long as there are more unsheltered individuals in Phoenix than there are shelter beds available
  • Seizing any property without prior notice at the property’s location, unless there is a reasonable belief that the property is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime or contraband
  • Destroying property that is not an immediate threat to public health or safety without first maintaining it in a secure location for 30 days

The city of Phoenix is ​​set to start enhanced clean-up plans Friday morning in a large encampment known as “the Zone.”

During the enhanced cleanups, the city plans to provide assistance to people as they move their tents and other belongings to allow the streets and sidewalks to be cleaned. They also will post notices at the location of the property believed to be abandoned to give a warning prior to subsequent removal.

“The Zone” is generally considered the area between 7th and 13th avenues and south of Jefferson Street to Jackson Street. Up to 1,000 people experiencing homelessness have been camping in this part of central Phoenix for years.

A lawsuit was filed in August by local businesses and property owners against the city of Phoenix, calling “the Zone” a public nuisance and requesting that the city address the homelessness crisis.

The ACLU then filed a federal lawsuit asking for a judge to bar the sweeps, citing civil rights violations.

The city of Phoenix requested that the first lawsuit be put on hold while a federal judge weighs in on the lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Phoenix was denied the stay.

The ACLU released the following statement following Thursday’s decision:

Today’s ruling affirms the city must do more to protect the constitutional rights of the unsheltered community. The order makes it clear – the city of Phoenix can’t destroy people’s belongings or target them with criminal sanctions due to their unhoused status. Because of this injunction, unsheltered people won’t be at risk of losing essential belongings, receiving unconstitutional citations, and experiencing further trauma at the hands of the city and Phoenix PD.

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