(Headline USA) A number of disabled Portland residents sued the city this week for allowing homeless encampments to take over public sidewalks, alleging the shelter tents make it impossible for them to move around in wheelchairs, walkers and canes.
The federal class action suit alleges Portland is violating the American with Disabilities Act by allowing homelessness to run rampant, according to the New York Post. One plaintiff who uses a wheelchair said he was almost hit by a car because he couldn’t access the sidewalk that was being covered by a homeless tent.
“I couldn’t get to my breakfast in the morning because there was a tent covering the whole sidewalk,” Keith Martin, 71, said. “I was forced onto the street and narrowly missed a streetcar that came around the corner.”
Another plaintiff, Steve Jackson, who is blind and uses a cane, said he frequently knocks into homeless tents and has a hard time getting around.
“Often there’s tents blocking the entire sidewalk, where I don’t see them because they weren’t there the day before, and I hit the tent and then people are mad at me and think I’m attacking them,” Jackson, 47, said.
The plaintiffs said in the suit that the city needs to clear sidewalks of tents and garbage, and “construct, purchase, or otherwise provide for emergency shelters in which to house the unsheltered persons” on the city’s streets.
“The entire class of persons with disabilities are regularly deprived of the benefits of services of the city of Portland,” said John DiLorenzo, a lawyer representing the group.
The homeless problem in Portland has gotten increasingly worse over the past couple of years. It’s now starting to spread into the local suburbs, and families are fleeing their neighborhoods as a result.
“It makes you not feel that great about living here. It makes living in the neighborhood harder, not as congenial as it could be,” 30-year Portland resident Greg Dilkes said of the homeless encampment along the Peninsula Crossing Trail near his home.