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Blake v. City of Grants Pass

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

August 7, 2019

DEBRA BLAKE, GLORIA JOHNSON, JOHN LOGAN, individuals, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF GRANTS PASS, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MARK D. CLARKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (#25) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. For the reasons below, Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are three allegedly homeless individuals in the City of Grants Pass. As alleged, plaintiff Debra Blake has been homeless in Grants Pass for about eight to ten years. Blake Supp. Decl. ¶ 3 (#26). Although she currently lives in temporary transitional housing, she is beyond her ninety-day stay and faces the imminent possibility of returning to the streets. Blake Supp. Decl. ¶¶ 2-3 (#43). Plaintiff John Logan alleges he has been intermittently homeless for the past ten years. Logan Supp. Decl. ¶¶ 4-6 (#28). Currently, he works as an in-home care provider, and his clients let him sleep on a mattress in their storage room approximately four or five nights a week. Logan Supp. Decl. ¶¶ 3-6 (#44). He has no legal right to stay at his clients' homes, and he spends the remaining nights sleeping in his car at a rest stop north of town. Id. Plaintiff Gloria Johnson allegedly lives full-time in her van. Johnson Supp. Decl. ¶ 5 (#27).

         Plaintiffs allege that each of their situations fall under the definition of homelessness adopted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). 24 C.F.R § 582.5 (2012). HUD's definition encompasses a variety of living situations, including youth homelessness, id. § 582.5(3); individuals fleeing domestic violence, id. § 582.5(4); individuals "living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living arrangements," id. § 582.5(1)(ii); and individuals whose primary nighttime residence "is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, or camping ground, id. § 582.5(1)(i). Plaintiffs allege that their situations are just three representations of modern homelessness in the United States. While their exact circumstances and stories may vary, they all share the need to conduct the life sustaining activities of resting, sleeping, and seeking shelter from the elements while living in Grants Pass without a permanent home.

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, through a combination of ordinances, customs, and policies, has unconstitutionally punished them for conducting these life-sustaining activities and criminalized their existence in Grants Pass. Plf. Mot. for Class Cert, at 8 (#25). They seek prospective declaratory and injunctive relief from enforcement of the following ordinances in the City of Grants Pass Municipal Code:

5.61.010 Definitions
A. "To Camp" means to set up or to remain in or at a campsite.
B. "Campsite" means any place where bedding, sleeping bag, or other material used for bedding purposes, or any stove or fire is placed, established, or maintained for the purpose of maintaining a temporary place to live, whether or not such place incorporates the use of any tent, lean-to, shack, or any other structure, or any vehicle or part thereof.
5.61.020 Sleeping on Sidewalks, Streets, Alleys, or Within Doorways Prohibited
A. No person may sleep on public sidewalks, streets, or alleyways at any time as a matter of individual and public safety.
B. No person may sleep in any pedestrian or vehicular entrance to public or private property abutting a public sidewalk.
C. In addition to any other remedy provided by law, any person found in violation of this section may be immediately removed from the premises.
5.61.030 Camping Prohibited
No person may occupy a campsite in or upon any sidewalk, street, alley, lane, public right of way, park, bench, or any other publicly-owned property or ...

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