How could the US Supreme Court's case Grants Pass v. Johnson impact SF's unhoused community?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
How could Supreme Court's homelessness case impact SF's unhoused?
The case City of Grants Pass v. Johnson is the most significant case on homelessness in more than 40 years.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The case City of Grants Pass v. Johnson is the most significant case on homelessness in more than 40 years. It would make it a crime for anyone without a home to sleep outside when they have no other options.

"I think it should concern everybody whether you are homeless or not. Everyone should have a voice and am definitely against it," said James Johns.

Johns has been homeless in San Francisco for 8 years.

"I'll keep trying. I'll keep looking and try as hard as possible to find shelter but the shelter they have in the city are not too good," said Johns.

MORE: Dozens rally in support of unhoused rights in SF amid looming US Supreme Court ruling

The most significant case on homelessness in more than 40 years goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

The latest (Point-in-time) count, identified 7,754 homeless individuals in San Francisco.

The Supreme Court's hearing comes as San Francisco fights its own lawsuit against the Coalition on homeless. The injunction that blocks it from removing homeless encampments from streets if there is no shelter available.

"We have in recent years invested billions of dollars in a compassionate, services and shelter first approach to addressing homelessness," said David Chiu, San Francisco City Attorney.

MORE: Supreme Court case on homelessness could have implications for Bay Area cities, experts say

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if ticketing homeless people is unconstitutional, or if it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment on Monday.

City Attorney Chiu is hopeful the Supreme Court's decision will help San Francisco.

"Many of the justices pointed out how these complicated issues are best handled by local cities, local communities, and local policy makers. Not necessarily by a federal judge or a number of federal judges. From our perspective we think cities like San Francisco we need a bit more flexibility to address the crisis on our streets," said Chiu.

Glide Foundation is concerned City of Grants Pass v. Johnson lead to "criminalizing" homeless individuals.

"Our population would really be impacted by just being more criminalized than they already are. We know people are across the board looking for ways to help the unhouse community but jailing and fining is not the solution," said Naeemah Charles with Glide Foundation.

RELATED: Supreme Court to review homelessness case that's been preventing encampment sweeps

The US Supreme Court is set to review a decision later this month that's been preventing cities from sweeping encampments.

Henry Karnilowcz president of the SOMA business Association is hoping for a change. He points to people sleeping on sidewalks as a huge challenge to businesses.

"If we were to take the space on the sidewalk we would get a penalty. We would get a bill from DPW saying you owe us a thousand bucks. These folks who put up a tent and take the whole sidewalk and it's not accessible for ADA and its okay for them," said Karnilowcz.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of June.

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