Court ruling affects homeless people's possessions

EUGENE, Ore. — The city of Eugene has stopped destroying possessions of homeless people living in camps in response to a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appellate court ruled in September that seizing and destroying possessions left in public places violates the U.S. Constitution.

For now, Eugene is taking a hands-off approach to homeless encampments, according to The Register-Guard.

Mark Schoening, acting parks and open space director, said the city has halted all cleanups of homeless camps until the city attorney drafts a legal and practical procedure for dealing with them.

Local procedures are expected to include advance notification to camp residents and ways for collecting items removed by the city.

Meanwhile, the city's halt on camps has had different effects on people.

University of Oregon instructor Whitey Lueck was lecturing his class about California black oak in the Bertelsen Nature Park in the West Eugene Wetlands in November when he noticed a sickly scent.

"I wasn't the only one who smelled human waste," Lueck said. "I could see people moving away from where I was talking, and I knew why."

Earlier this month in those same wetlands, 40-year-old Jason Bild and a friend watched "The Incredible Hulk" on a battery-powered player in a propane-heated, tarp-and-scrap-wood shelter.

Bild said it had been months since city workers tore out his previous camp and tossed his belongings into a trash bin.

"It's hard," Bild said, "when they take your clothes, your tent, your shoes. You have to start all over."

— Associated Press

Information from The Register-Guard,

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