HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Local leaders react to SCOTUS ruling to ban homeless people sleeping outdoors

Jun 28, 2024, 6:00 PM

A large homeless encampment on the sidewalk where the Road Home shelter used to be, locals react to...

A large homeless encampment has formed on the sidewalk where the Road Home shelter existed until its demolition in January 2020. Tents are pictured on Rio Grande Street in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Local and state leaders are weighing in after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that cities can ban homeless people from sleeping outdoors.

The state’s Homeless Coordinator Wayne Niederhauser released a written statement emphasizing the importance of enforcing local laws to ensure community safety.

“The Utah Office of Homeless Services prioritizes the need for shelter and housing for those experiencing homelessness. They are our family, friends and neighbors and deserving of human dignity. No one should have to live in a place not meant for human habitation, and it is essential to enforce local laws for the safety of all in our communities,” the statement read. 

Niederhauser said they will take time to assess how the Supreme Court’s ban on homeless encampments will affect their efforts on a local level. 

Gov. Spencer Cox took to social media after the ruling was announced.

“This Supreme Court ruling supports local authorities as they enforce no-camping ordinances and help our homeless friends find the shelter and resources they need,” read Cox’s post.

 A group that advocates for the homeless, Solutions Utah, said they agree with the SCOTUS ruling on the Grants Pass case. 

Solutions Utah Chair Dale Keller and Vice Chair Dave Kelly also released a statement Friday morning. 

“Solutions Utah agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a city’s right to enforce anti-camping laws. With this enforceable authority, cities can keep their parks, streets, sidewalks and other public places open, safe, clean and accessible for their intended uses,” the statement read.

The statement went on to encourage cities and states to find solutions.

Now the state of Utah, with its communities, cities, and counties has the legal responsibility to enforce anti-camping and related laws and we encourage all to do so. It also removes the ambiguity created by Martin vs. Boise and the Ninth Circuit Court decision. It challenges the notion that homeless camping in public spaces is humane and compassionate. This should also spur cities and states to pursue effective alternatives to solve this humanitarian crisis,” the statement continued. 

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Local leaders react to SCOTUS ruling to ban homeless people sleeping outdoors